How comic’s use authentic body language to win over an audience by Jack Milner
Sian Jones / 01 Oct /

Just as a good sales person takes charge of the “conversation” so a good comic has to boss their audience. You have to let them know you’re in charge.

But clearly running on stage and shouting, “who’s the Daddy?” is also unlikely to endear you to your audience (and that’s doubly true in sales.) There’s a balance.

As soon as a comedian walks on stage, literally within 3 seconds, the audience decides on their suitability as “leader.” This is also true of the sales person. For instance when you’re buying a car you make an instant judgement on the guy selling you the car. In my experience this not always entirely positive.

The comedian doesn’t achieve this “you’re the Daddy” effect through their words – it’s something to do with the way they carry themselves – their presence. There’s a certain quality a top comic has as they walk on that makes the audience lean forward in anticipation. You just know they’re going to be good. Conversely, and terrifyingly for any novices, the audience also knows if the comic hasn’t got what it takes. The buzz evaporates, there is a cold silence in the room and as the comic opens his mouth, their words hang unwanted in the air before disappearing into an echoey void. And from that moment onwards it’s going to be extraordinarily hard to win back their audience. This can be just as true in the sales conversation. Start off giving the wrong impression and there can be no way back.

So what is the good comic “doing” that different? No words have been spoken in those first 3 seconds and yet you just know whether they can or can’t cut it.

I believe 3 things are happening here. The first is the desire to tell their story. The good comic wants to be in the space. So in body language terms they are looking at the audiences, walking forward towards the action. This walk or in some cases run, is quite different to one that merely transfers you from A to b.

The second is the building of instant rapport. The body language and face are “open.” A good comedian, almost certainly unconsciously, is through open body language building a connection with their audience. “Let’s party,” they seem to be saying.

Thirdly the walk reveals the style and personality of the comedian. We instantly “get” the nerdy comic, the outrageous flamboyant, or the “mad as a box frogs!” Indeed this reveal of their comic persona as they walk on stage is vital to the comedian’s success.

Because we feel we know who they are, so we trust them. And if you don’t trust the communicator then it doesn’t matter how brilliant your message we simply won’t listen.