Some tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up along the way.
You’ve seen some good after dinner entertainers, and we’ve all been bored to the back teeth by a dull after dinner speaker. What’s the differences between the two?
Let’s start with the obvious one:
We do like a laugh don’t we? And if we’re laughing, we’re smiling and when all of those things happen we feel good.
I don’t just mean ‘tell jokes’, although if you’ve got some of those, that’ll be nice too. Humour can be relating fully, awkward or embarrassing tales of things that have happened.
However you find it, look closely at what you’re presenting and find the funny in it.
This is something I learned from TV mind reader Derren Brown’s director and co-writer, Andy Nyman. Nyman talks about shifting your weight from the more natural stance of leaning on your heels, to pushing it forward on to your toes.
You’ll see a sudden and dramatic change in the way you are perceived. Rather than being ‘on the back foot’ you’re forward, you’re engaging, and almost ‘ready to pounce’. This gives a subtle assertiveness to your walk and stance in front of the group you’re speaking to.
You should know exactly what you’re going to say, how (and where) you’re going to stand, and every nuance of your opening few moments. If you don’t script any other part of your cabaret show or speech, you must absolutely script your first few minutes.
I resisted doing this for my after dinner mind reading show for around 5 years and then when I finally did it, everything changed.
Writing an opening line is extremely hard, but once you work it through and find one that hits home you’l bound on stage more confident than ever.
I remember I used to stand in the wings of a theatre, or just to the side of the room, and be thinking ‘what do I say…will they like me?’. All of the usual self-doubt is playing over and over in your mind.
Now with my opening script I never worry about walking on stage. I know as soon as I walk on exactly what I am going to say. I don’t need to think about it, I don’t need to hope that my impromptu ‘off the cuff’ wit will be funny. I know that my opening line does the job.
The first impression you make sets up what I call ‘the frame’ through which everything else you do is seen. So if the frame you start with when you walk on is that of an unconfident, concerned performer (because you don’t know what to say), then you’ll spend a great majority of your presentation fighting that concern.
I didn’t realise how long this post would end up. So I’ll continue with the final 3 points in next week’s blog post. Number 4 is essential to making #3 there work properly, and making yours look like a planned, professional performance – yet like most things, it’s simple.