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Tell Us A Joke!

To illustrate the Powering Your Potential process and methodology I have been known to ask someone in the audience to, tell “us” a joke! 

Ignoring the aspect of getting people to step outside their comfort zone, this simple question clearly highlights the importance and interaction between the three PYP model elements of communication skills, personal brand and personal development. 

Like some jokes, knock, knock for example, the PYP model and methodology is simple and as a result can be easy for people to say I understand that, I can or do, do that.

Delivering your joke is however only part of the process, getting the laugh is the objective which is both a skill, complex and lies at the heart of the model where the three areas overlap, in the trademarked Triangle of Potential. 

Simply asking someone to tell you a joke immediately prompts a whole host of different thoughts and judgements across the three model elements that instantly reflect on both you and them. 

Landing Your Message

How are you going to communicate it?

Ahead of his sell out 110 night UK tour Peter Kay, like all top comedians, tried out new material in small “secret” gigs so he can be sure that the jokes land and the laughs come in the right places. The content of the set and the order of the jokes might evolve during this process to ensure laughter builds, is maintained and the transition from one topic to another is seamless. It will be rehearsed to the point that whilst it is as tight as can be in terms of performance, it seems so natural. 

Whilst, by the end of the tour, he might have done the show 109 times before, it still needs to be as fresh and funny on the last night, as it was on the first, as it will be the first time the audience have seen and heard it!

Communicating and landing your message is therefore about far more than just the message itself or delivering a line. It is about knowing your material or message, practice, structure, the combination of pitch, tone, passion, commitment, energy and body language to secure and maintain engagement. It is about being so clear and comfortable with your message that you are situationally fluid enough to look like you are “winging it!”

What Do you Want People to Think of You?

What sort of joke are you going to tell and as a result how do you want to be perceived? 

The personal brand development of a comedian is vital, with observers and commentators like Ricky Gervais, joke tellers like Jimmy Carr or visual performers like Lee Evans. This brand is vital to the type of joke or message you deliver and how it will be received. Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes five times, famously using the star studded audience and the establishment that had hired him, as the source of his humour. It is a great illustration of both the need and ability to relate to a niche, but also diverse, audience in the room while also including the viewing public. Some may have been offended, or may not have found it funny, but he and they kept coming back. He didn’t mean it, or did he?!

The words you use reinforce your brand and position how you are perceived. The ability to explain complexity in simple terms, demonstrating knowledge while building understanding maintains engagement and perception.  Aligning your communication style with your message is a large part of the process and the combination of these two elements determines how successfully your words carry your message, deliver it to and secure a laugh from, perhaps the most important element, the audience. 

How Broad a View of the World do you have?

Your personal development, view of the world or in this case audience, is vital to achieving your objective. These are the people with whom, you are looking to land your message, and how you communicate that message will change depending on their demographic makeup. By design adult humour is for adults, it can be funny and the message excludes children for the purpose of both inappropriate exposure and understanding. Other audiences are shaped largely through choice and expectation as a result of knowing what they are going to get through knowledge of the established brand and communication of the person on stage.

Behind You!

The largely UK tradition of pantomime, is a great illustration of the different interaction between the PYP methodology elements and whilst not obvious, is actually a more accurate example of everyday circumstances. It is a perfect exponent of consistent communication and clear personal brand between “the goodie” and “the baddie” while being able to both acknowledge and play to different audience elements at the same time.

The adults have their own set of jokes littered throughout the performance, these largely go unnoticed by the children, while at the same time the adults acknowledge, but largely do not laugh at the jokes aimed at the children, who obviously find them hilarious. The elder siblings sit in the middle squirming when they want to laugh at the adult humour but at the same time don’t want to let their parents know they are more aware than they think!

Recognising that your brand and message can be the same yet will land completely differently depending on the audience is a vital element to achieving your objective. It doesn’t matter what you say, it is what people hear that counts.

Tell me a joke is a single illustration, of the interaction between the three elements of the PYP methodology which are visible everywhere. Getting them working in harmony is vital to achieving your objective be it leadership, team building, sales, difficult conversations, dealing with conflict, problem solving or anything else. Remember, you are in control of your message and your brand but not always your audience.

The advice from Powering Your Potential is to therefore have ability to be flexible and adaptable when it comes to your delivery, enabling you to land your message and achieve your objective. So the next time you are delivering a message think about how you can best prepare, deliver, how you want to be perceived and who you are delivering to! Only then will you land it successfully.