Genuinely the funniest moment of my life (up until that point)

I’m 13 years old, I’m on the couch at home, and I am HORIZONTAL with laughter. Laughing so hard I’m crying. Laughing so hard I can barely breathe.

On the screen, a man with glasses is leaping about, saying things like, “Can you imagine the sheer joy of an empty bin in your kitchen, a new fresh bin liner in the swing top bin? It’d be like a bin in heaven, wouldn’t it?”

What i don’t know at that tender age is that, for the first time in my life, I’m watching observational stand-up comedy.

I love it more than I love anything else I’ve ever seen.

The routine was by Ben Elton on his show The Man From Auntie. It’s still on Youtube (and still holds up).And while, yes, I was being introduced to Ben Elton and to stand up in general, what I was more specifically being introduced to was one of my favourite concepts in comedy AND presentations:

Your Obvious.

“Your Obvious” is a term I first heard when I studied improv comedy (which was here, in London). It means that sometimes, you make an observation that isn’t funny to you because it’s so obvious. But to other people, it’s funny BECAUSE it’s obvious, but also (crucially) because they hadn’t thought of it themselves.

One way to explain how it works comes from my first year undergrad psychology text book, just called “PSYCHOLOGY”. Tragically, I no longer have it — after moving it between several different apartments and across continents, I Marie Kondo’d it out of my life a few years ago (my version, which involves the question, “have you used, looked at or even remembered this exists in the last 5 years?”). But I still remember this flow chart. As a 19 year old, I was tickled by how utterly humourless a flow chart about jokes was, so committed it to memory. I’ve recreated it for you:

Yes, surreal humour exists (and is often great!). But usually, what makes an observation funny is that you’re not expecting it AND it makes sense. And observational comedy lands RIGHT in that intersection.

In a conversation with my friend Michelle Barry Franco, I suddenly realised something awesome:

The concept of “your obvious” ALSO APPLIES TO PRESENTATIONS!!!

And web copy!!! And not just when it comes to humour!!!

When I’m working with a client on a keynote or presentation — or when I’m running workshops on Ethically Persuasion Communication — I talk a lot about the importance of Pain Points. If you want to move people into action, you HAVE to make sure you’re meeting them where they are. And in most cases with the clients of my clients, “where they are” is a place where their lives could be better. I won’t go into huge detail now about why you should be articulating pain points, given that I already did that [with better hair] in this video/transcribed blog:

What I realised in my convo with Michelle is that the MOST effective way to articulate your listener’s pain points is by using “your obvious.”

When you’ve experienced what they’re experiencing, what to you seems obviously not a good thing in their lives?

Maybe it’s exactly how it feels to be in that position; so, for example, if you teach people how to experience less stress, maybe it’s that they wake up every morning, running through all the things they have to do that day. It might seem obvious to you that this is what happens when you’re stressed, but it might not be to them until you say it. So talk about that!

Maybe it’s the consequences of not doing the thing you teach. Let’s say you teach leaders how to retain their staff. A consequence of not doing that would be that they have to lower their standards when it comes to new hires, which could mean having a staff member who’s often late or just doesn’t really care about the job. That might feel obviously related to you, but not to them. Say it!

Note how these examples are also SUPER-SPECIFIC. That’s not an accident; I’m going to talk to you next time about the universality in the specific. But for now:

When it comes to speaking in a way that connects with your audience — and makes them want to buy into what you’re saying — try using some observations that are “your obvious”. Then see how they resonate.

And if you want some help pulling those out (or just generally making sure your presentations are all killer no filler), give me a shout — you can book in a free, no obligation call here.

Now, over to you: what’s an example of someone pointing out “their obvious” that made you laugh, cry, or just go, ‘oooooof’? Let me know in the comments below.

You rule! 

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

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