I’ve spent a lot of time

sitting in seminars, conferences and keynotes listening for gems of wisdom from the speaker that I can turn into humor. Some of these speeches were great (I got to hear Robert Ballard talk about discovering the Titanic!), and some of them were not so great (health care reform comes to mind!), and all this listening allowed me to create quick humor targeted to the group I’m speaking to. But I’ve now found a faster way, that doesn’t require me to shower and look nice. I read the handouts that the attendees are given. Brilliant, I wish I’d started doing it sooner. Many times, the handouts have a great outline of what the speaker is going to say, AND I can read them over and over again to come up with the funny – as opposed to hearing it once and hoping I got it right.

I just did this on Tuesday

for a group I was performing for that evening, and it went great. The company was into everything from phones to automobiles, and the attendees were trying to get their employees to un-stress and relax. One of the keynote speakers had sent out an article on ways to encourage employees to unwind, and this included taking a walk and not answering their phone. I read the article and then had some fun with pointing out that “you’re in the business of cell phones and cars, yet you want your people to turn off their phones and walk???” It hit big . . .and I didn’t have to sit through this speaker’s session to develop this home run humor.

We often overlook

the obvious things, like articles, powerpoints and handouts because they aren’t given to us ahead of time. This one was sent via text through their conference app the day of the program. Instead we’ll look at the websites, talk with the client, and read brochures, which are all great, but they’re not up to the minute . . .and you still don’t get a good sense of what the speakers are talking about unless you sit in the session.

So ask for the

actual materials that the speaker is using. This will give you lots of material for making the group laugh . . . and you’ll free up extra time to un-stress!