Public Speaking - Terrifying or Terrifyingly Funny?

Ashley Brafford

Did you know? 74 percent of people suffer from speech anxiety.

Unfortunately, this terrifying, gut-wrenching feeling does not discriminate and can creep up on even the most seasoned presenter.

As a company, we are constantly pitching to beat the competition and win the work. With 93 percent of communication being non-verbal, the delivery of our message is essential. There are many factors that can make or break a pitch aside from the actual content presented which include audience connection, storytelling ability, ‘stage’ presence, and demeanor.

Enter, Pitch Lab.

Because there is always room for improvement regardless of your public speaking experience.

What is Pitch Lab?

Jay Mays started Pitch Lab to help people and businesses become better, more engaging speakers and storytellers.

The Twist: They put a comedic spin on it. Because let’s face it, comedians have a way of capturing and holding our attention until the two-hour Netflix special ends and we realize it’s 1:00 a.m. on a work night.

David Soto and Ayla Anderson at Pitch Lab

Our Experience

Pitch Lab joined MCG for an afternoon which began with Jay Mays and veteran comedian, Tommy Y, presenting tips to improve pitch delivery while intertwining interactive exercises to address our weaknesses and apply our learning. The session concluded with a few of us being put to the test by presenting a humorous, fictional product pitch.

I’ll admit, we underestimated the power of the presentation and exercises.

By identifying parallels between a pitch and comedic stand-up, we were able to apply pieces of their joke delivery to our approach, minus a few of the dramatics and most of the profanity. Not only did these exercises elevate our public speaking skills leaving us with actionable takeaways, but it served as a fun event that united the team by forcing vulnerability. Here are just a few bites of content we found valuable.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Embrace the butterflies: While they might lessen with practice, they’re probably not going anywhere, so embrace them. Acknowledge them as excitement, not fear.
  2. Savor the silence: Pauses and moments of silence builds tension and anticipation, honing the audience in closer.
  3. Speak up: Yes, we all know this one. But what you might not know is that by speaking louder, it reduces the frequency of filler words such as “um” and “like.” Seriously, try it.
  4. Acknowledge interruptions: Don’t try to ignore what is obviously distracting your audience. Address it head on.
  5. Move it or lose it: Standing in one place is boring. Move with purpose around the room or stage, allowing the movement to compliment your story and enhance your punchline delivery.

Whether you’re pitching a product or service or trying to convince your significant other how much you need that Harley or pair of Gucci pumps, these pitching tips can help you get that ‘Yes’ you’ve been hoping for.