Stand Up for Science @ Denver Museum of Nature & Science!

Denver Museum of Nature & Science
Pitch Lab Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Pitch Lab teams up with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science to help scientists improve their public speaking skills!

“What we do is very relevant, and not just to us as professionals,” Nathan Boyless, president of Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc. recently told a group of fellow archaeologists at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. “The stories that we’re discovering out there as scientists are relevant to the broader public and it makes sense to get the message out. You are a differentiator, and how you’re presenting your idea has an effect on how it’s received.”

Nathan was introducing Pitch Lab’s session as part of “Pushing Boundaries,” a three-day symposium for archeologists hosted by DMNS.

Alongside presentations like “Re-thinking the Protohistoric Pueblo Economy in Light of Plains-Pueblo Exchange” and “A Zuni Perspective on Bears Ears National Monument,” Pitch Lab was on-hand to help scientists develop new strategies for unpacking their discoveries to the general public, colleagues and stakeholders.

Improv Comedy Mirroring DMNS

“93% of what we’re communicating is actually non-verbal,” Pitch Lab founder Jay Mays explained to the audience as the session got underway. “All information is good information: body language, the voice, the inflection, the eye contact. All of that energy is important.”

Things quickly got interactive with a round of Comedy Karaoke, wherein a handful of participants shared an examples of things that trip them up when speaking in public and then delivered a one-liner from Steven Wright, Mitch Hedberg, or Demetri Martin.

“My goal for public speaking is never saying ‘um’, which I know I do too much,” one attendee shared, before delivering the following quip to thunderous applause: “I’m sick of following my dreams, I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”

93% Communication Non Verbal Pitch Lab Jay Mays DMNS

Mays asked the speakers what they felt leading into the exercise. One common answer was “fear,” to which he exclaimed, “That’s ok! I got nervous before this.”

“It’s not about killing the butterflies,” he continued. “it’s about getting them to fly in formation. Try to reframe your nervousness as excitement. The way the body reacts to nervousness and the way it reacts to excitement are very similar.”

Mays was joined on stage by local stand-up comic Daniel Reskin, who reminded the group, “If your heart is pounding, that means you care. If your heart’s not pounding, something is wrong.”

Pitch Lab Scientists Improv Comedy Denver Museum Nature & Science

Mays also said that you can set yourself up for success by never starting until you have the room. He suggested having someone introduce you or come out and start saying “clap if you can hear me.” The duo suggested taking time before your talk begins to introduce yourself to the front row so you can establish a connection with your audience.

Reskin and Mays then took the group through some stage presence tips from Robin Williams—chiefly that the more you practice your presentation the more natural is will seem on stage.

From there, they unpacked strategies for being visible on stage, reducing distractions, and staying present, pointing to a host of beloved comedians for examples of how to deliver material effectively. They also encouraged the group to embrace opportunities to react to the audience, to eliminate “ums” by speaking louder, and to build a cadence that uses pauses the way graphic designers use white space.

Improv Comedy Scientists DMNS

Other interactive exercises segued into the virtues of improv comedy, with participants building empathy by doing mini impersonations of a partner, matching tone and body language. This was followed by a game of shoulder-to-shoulder storytelling, with each person contributing a single word, moving down the line.

“I’m excited to break the fourth wall!” one participant shared, as the session concluded. “Most of us get up and have a script, but I’m going to try really hard to actually get people more engaged.”

The now-giddy archaeologists left Pitch Lab armed with new techniques and some suggestions of where to sharpen their skills: namely open-mic nights and improv groups.

“In your town, if there’s a thing called Peer Review, it’s stand-up comedy by scientists,” added Stephen Nash, Department Chair and Curator of Archeology at DMNS. “I’ve participated twice now and it was the hardest public speaking I’ve ever done. That’s why I fell in love with Pitch Lab: they are spot on about what these kinds of skills will do for your and for your public speaking.”

Jay Mays Daniel Reskin Pitch Lab Denver Museum Nature Science

Want to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your organization be more confident and engaging speakers? Drop us an email, we'd love to chat!  

Make A Good Decision For Once At Your Office Holiday Party!

spike the punch Pitch Lab Corporate Event

The holidays are full of cheer, let them be full of laughs too.

Make a good decision for once at your office holiday party and host a Pitch Lab comedy workshop!

Did you know humor is a key to success at work?

"Organizations are tapping into the humor advantage. Companies such as Zappos and Southwest Airlines use comedy + a fun culture to attract & retain employees.”
        -- Abraham Lincoln

 

Find Out How Pitch Lab Has Helped:

Americorp Improv Comedy Workshop Pitch Lab

Americorps

Improv Comedy Workshop

Volume Nine Pitch Lab workshop

Volume Nine

Engaging Speaker Workshop

Moore Communications Group Pitch Lab Workshop

Moore Communications Group

Sales Pitch Workshop

Colorado Academy REDI Lab Pitch Lab

Colorado Academy

Public Speaking Workshop

 

Want To Learn More?

If you're interested, contact us and we'll set up a 15 minute phone call to find out if a Pitch Lab team building workshop is a good fit for your company.

Thanks & Happy Holidays from all of us at Pitch Lab!

Top 7 Sales Superstitions and Why Your Team Believes in Them

sales superstitions

We’ve all been there; you have the opportunity to pitch your dream client.

You take your time during discovery. You gain access to all the decision-makers. You expertly differentiate from the competition. The numbers make sense. Your entire team rallies around the pitch—and you crush it.

But then… nothing. Your dream client goes dark.

Not long after comes the “no.” And it’s over. There’s little consolation. No second prize for “Closed Lost” in Salesforce. 

 

Sales Is Full of Uncertainty

That’s the thing with sales. Even when you work hard and do everything right, sometimes it feels like winning needs a pinch of luck.

So we try to capture that luck. Manufacture that luck.

The belief that we can win is what keeps the wind in our sails, even though deep down we know we can’t control the outcome.

But science shows us that the feeling of control, even an illusory feeling of controlcan reduce stress and thereby increase performance. 

 

Why Superstitions Work

Superstitions help us because they provide a feeling of control, and that feeling of control actually helps salespeople perform better under pressure.

I have my own rituals and started to wonder, does everyone? I reached out to my favorite salespeople that I’ve worked with over the years, and here’s what they had to say about superstitions:

 

“I NEVER celebrate a verbal close or tell my CEO a deal is done until I get final signature from my client.”

– Patrick M., Pandora  

 
“We all have reps on our teams that consistently sandbag. Some of my most senior reps still refuse to tell me when they had a good meeting or even move a deal to a higher percentage in Salesforce for fear of jinxing the momentum.”

– Austin L., Smaato

 
“I once had a building in my territory in SoHo where I literally lost every single deal. It was my Temple of Doom. After a while, I determined the entire building was jinxed and never set foot in there again.”

– Daniel E., Konica Minolta

 
“I have a lucky business card holder. I used it so much the button broke and wouldn’t clasp, but I still rocked it for years.”

– Ed G., Pabst Brewing

 
“I’ll never duplicate and reuse a proposal from a previous ‘Closed Lost’ opportunity.”

– Antonia M., IKE GPS

 
“I have one special mug I'll drink coffee from in the morning if I have a big meeting with a new client or if I’m negotiating a house that day.”

– Ana W., Keller Williams

 
“I always wear a blue shirt if I’m closing a piece of business and if I know there’s a cattle-call pitch that lasts the whole day, 12 noon is my lucky time slot. (Also, it doesn’t hurt to bring the client lunch with heavy carbs so they slip into a food coma while listening to your competitors’ afternoon pitches!)

– Mike H., iHeartRadio

 

Getting Lucky Takes Work

If rituals and superstitions provide you a feeling of control, by all means, use them to combat the stress that comes with the territory (pun intended).

We all welcome a pinch of luck. Unfortunately, it’s not predictable, repeatable or scalable. An even better strategy to feel in control during your pitch is to train harder.

Pitch Lab logo

Lucky for you, Pitch Lab can help you be a more authentic and engaging presenter using proven techniques from your favorite comedians like Chris Rock, Jim Gaffigan and Tina Fey.

In the same way a stand-up comic hits an open mic, Pitch Lab is designed to help you clock the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice Malcolm Gladwell says make a master.

Join us at one of our upcoming Denver workshops, or contact me to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your team.

Until then, good luck… I mean, break a leg! 

Public Speaking: Terrifying or Terrifyingly Funny? Pitch Lab @ Moore Communications Group

Moore Communications Group Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab Moore Communications Group

Pitch Lab joined Moore Communications Group for an afternoon to improve pitch delivery while intertwining interactive exercises to build new strengths for their customer facing team. The workshop concluded with a few brave members of the MCG team being put to the test by presenting a humorous, fictional product pitch for 3D Cheese Printers!

Together we broke down stand-up comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help MCG team members be funnier and more engaging during their sales pitches (minus a few of the dramatics and most of the profanity).

Not only did the exercises elevate their public speaking skills leaving them with actionable takeaways, but it served as a fun event that united the team by forcing vulnerability.

What The MCG Team Thought About Pitch Lab:

"I would recommend this workshop to any company. It was the best professional development workshop I've ever taken in my 8 years of experience in my current industry. Jay was extremely personable, smart and kept my attention the entire time. It made the entire learning experience a memorable one." - Marissa 
"The Pitch Lab team was great to work with. They were informative, funny and made everyone feel comfortable. For a very dreaded topic (public speaking), the workshop allowed everyone to be involved and excited to get their turn! I would highly recommend to any company looking for a fun team builder." - Danelle
"Pitch Lab does a great job merging comedic relief with important concepts that make learning informative and fun." - Stacey
"Given my fear of public speaking, I never would have imagined having so much fun practicing pitching in front of my co-workers. We're excited to put the key takeaways to use in our next client pitch!" - Ashley
Ladies and Gentlemen... Jay Mays & Tommy Y!

Ladies and Gentlemen... Jay Mays & Tommy Y!

Whether you’re pitching a product or service or trying to convince your significant other how much you need that Harley or pair of Gucci pumps, our pitch tips can help you get that ‘Yes’ you’ve been hoping for.

Read the full article via Ashley Brafford on MCG Insights

Pitch Lab at Thrive Workplace ft. Ben Kronberg from Comedy Central!

PitchLab in Oct 2017

On a somewhat standard Tuesday, a group of salesmen, entrepreneurs, and creative minds gathered at Thrive Workplace to learn about and practice public speaking.

What made this Tuesday special was Ben Kronberg from Comedy Central, Late Night with Seth Meyers & Jimmy Kimmel Live was on hand to break down stand-up comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help these Denver professionals be funnier, more engaging speakers at work.

Between the basics like breaking the 4th wall and dramatic pause, to the more advanced concepts like improv and storytelling during sales, attendees got to practice telling jokes, improvising and mirroring one another. 

 

What Attendees Said About The Workshop:

Who would have thought that stand-up comedy and pitching share so much in common? Jay and Ben deliver a slew of invaluable tips and tricks to improve your public speaking ability in a fun (and funny!) way. 
— Kevin C. @ Amazon
Great workshop that helped develop my confidence while speaking in public or for during sales presentations. I strongly recommend for all sales professionals! 
— Doug K. @ ServiceNow
Jay and Ben were really engaging and fun! This is a great program for anyone who wants to understand how to incorporate comedy into your pitch and can benefit from discovering exactly how to command and maintain your audience’s attention. 
— George B. @ BentlyBaths
Ben Kronberg Pitch Lab

If you're interested in learning a thing or two about public speaking and incorporating humor into your pitches, join us at our next event!

Til then, enjoy this photo of Ben Kronberg and Jim Gaffigan's comedy love: 

Ben Kronberg Jim Gaffigan

Pitch Lab Headlines Denver Startup Week 2017!

Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week

2017 marked Denver Startup Week’s 6th birthday and a record breaking 18,900 registered attendees!  

Pitch Lab was honored to be selected for two headline sessions during the week. These events were without a doubt, the highlight of our year. 

Over 1,100 folks registered to see Pitch Lab and we had a blast helping Denver’s startup scene find its funny!

Big thanks to John Wilker for all the hospitality and support. Below are our favorite pics from the week courtesy of Jim Darling.

Cristian Whitney Pitch Lab
Denver Startup Week Pitch Lab opener
Pitch Lab Garage Denver Startup Week
Find Your Funny Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab panel Denver Startup Week
pitchlab_dsw17_finals-42.jpg
Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week laughter
JD Lopez Pitch Lab
JD Lopez RJ Owen Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week
Audience Laugh Pitch Lab
Heidi McGuire Pitch Lab
Pitch Lab Improv Comedy
Pitch Lab Crowd Laughter
Anthony Franco Pitch Lab Denver Startup Week
LOL Pitch Lab
Anthony Franco Garage Pitch Lab
Joel Lutz Pitch Lab Panel
Daniel Reskin Pitch Lab
Crowd Shot Denver Startup Week

Climbing Mt. Cleverest with Ben Kronberg!

Ben Kronberg Last Comic Standing Pitch Lab

Ben and I have been friends for over 12 years now, but I’ve been his fan longer than that.

When you hear Ben’s jokes, it’s obvious his genius comes from the unique way he perceives the world. What makes him truly special though, is how he uses silence to build an almost unbearable tension in the room. Tension that begs to be released by a punchline only Ben can deliver.

If you don’t know him, Ben is a New York based stand-up comedian who headlines all over the world. You’ve probably seen him tell jokes on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Late Night With Seth Meyers, John Oliver’s NY Stand-Up Show or his very own Half Hour Comedy Special on Comedy Central.

Pitch Lab caught up with Ben to ask him a few questions about his worst experience on stage, how he deals with “butterflies” before a set and why you should join his workshop on October 17th at Thrive Workplace.

 

Who is your all-time favorite comedian?

Troy Baxley. A local Denver comedian who was one of the first stand ups I ever saw live. Even though he was never "famous" he made such an important impact on the comedy scene in Denver and whenever I mention his name on the road, people who have seen or heard of him get really excited.

He had such a presence and flow that I could listen to him tell the same jokes over and over and never get tired of watching him work his magic. I conjure him on stage whenever I feel I have nowhere to go.  He gives me strength like a deity in desert. 

 

What’s your favorite “Dad joke”?

Why don't cannibals eat clowns? Because they taste funny. 

 

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?

I love the stage cuz it gives me all of the experiences in concentrated form:  confidence, fear, curiosity, regret, happiness, anger...its life. Worst experiences are a value of "I hope this never happens again" but I feel that you have to be open to the worst to experience the best.

If you leave the house anything can happen, and no matter what happens you have to make the best of it.  That said, one time early on I had maraschino cherries thrown at me by an audience member. It stained my favorite thrift store Jacket, but then that stain became a story and a badge of courage.

 

What’s the most nervous you’ve ever been in anticipation for a set?

Anytime I go up in Denver I can get nervous. It's where I started and I feel the most potential inescapable judgment there.  

I was also pretty nervous before my Comedy Central Half Hour cuz I was getting paid the most money I've ever been paid for a show. I looked at my hair a lot and shadow boxed backstage...JK.  

 

What’s the most exciting project you have coming up your fans should know about?

I have a couple of indie pilots I acted In that are being shopped around. I have no idea what will come of them but I am proud that I got to explore my acting abilities while getting paid to do so. 

 

Which one is Jason Sudeikis and which one is Ed Helms? And do we really need them both?

Good question. Which one was MacGruber

 

The first time you coached at Pitch Lab were you surprised how well stand-up comedy techniques translated to presentations in the workplace?

I wasn't surprised cuz the idea is really great and the applications of stand up are self evident in that way.  As soon as you explained the idea I was on board and I am a tough sell when it comes to ideas that aren't mine:) I can't wait to see where Pitch Lab goes.  The potential is endless for this type thing. 

 

Why should folks sign up for your Pitch Lab workshop at Thrive on 10/17?

It's a no-brainier.  No matter what you do professionally you will gain from taking part in Pitch Lab.  No matter what stage of the pitching process you are currently in: beginner to seasoned pitch-er, this workshop will absolutely help move you in the right direction no regardless your end goal.  

Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

Ben Slinging One-Liners On Comedy Central!

Why Breaking "The 4th Wall" Will Make You a More Engaging Speaker

jim gaffigan whisper voice

What Is "The Fourth Wall?" 

The formal definition of The Fourth Wall is a theatrical term for the imaginary “wall” that exists between actors on stage and the audience. 

Obviously, no such wall really exists, but to keep up the illusion of theater, the actors pretend that they cannot hear or see the audience and the audience gets to enjoy the wonderful sensation of being a fly on the wall. The same effect often occurs in movies, only the fourth wall in that instance is a camera lens.

In some of your favorite movies and television shows, actors purposely break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience. This happens in shows like Modern Family and The Office, when they conduct their interviews for the audience. Another example is Kevin Spacey in House of Cards -- when his character confesses to the audience about his true feelings in the moment. 

Image courtesy of Julie Hansen, @acting4sales

Image courtesy of Julie Hansen, @acting4sales

How Does this Apply to Public Speaking? 

As we learned, when commanding the room, you break the fourth wall by "calling the room." How exactly do you call the room? Acknowledge the obvious in your surroundings... if you notice it, your audience notices it. This will keep everyone there with you in the moment and engaged in the experience. 

 

Watch Jim Break The 4th Wall with His Whisper Voice

And since we discuss Jim Gaffigan in our recent stand-up comedy workshop featuring Ben Kronberg, I want to share one of my favorite clips about Jim's addition to cake! Notice what a great job he does both changing perspectives and breaking the 4th wall through the ingenious use of his whisper voice.

To learn more about breaking the fourth wall contact Pitch Lab. We'd love to help you be a funnier, more engaging speaker! 

 

7 Hard-Hitting Questions for Pitch Lab Improv Comedy Coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz!

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

Pitch Lab's Favorite improv comedy coaches: Joel Lutz & RJ Owen

There's no getting around it. We live in an unscripted world. If you mean to make an impression, you have to be able to think on your feet, hurl yourself into the moment and improvise. And like a great improv troupe, successful businesses must rely on similar tools to succeed.

We caught up with Pitch Lab’s own RJ Owen and Joel Lutz to ask them 7 important questions about their origin story, Dad jokes, and why you should sign up for their upcoming improv comedy workshop at Galvanize Denver on September 12th!

 

How did the two of you meet?

RJ: Joel and I were introduced when a pal of ours started a little breakfast club. We had a lot of similar interests and enjoyed riffing on each other’s jokes in conversation. Later when Jay and I put together the initial concept for Pitch Lab, I knew Joel would bring a lot of expertise from his perspective as an improv coach. It’s been great to collaborate with him.

Joel: What RJ said, except I had to beg him to be included in Pitch Lab.

Why isn’t there more love between improv comedians and stand-up comedians?

Joel: For the same reason Kanye doesn’t like Taylor Swift.  Artistic and crazy doesn’t mix well with corporate and cliché!… wait, am I allowed to say that?

What’s your favorite Dad joke?

RJ: Why did the chicken cross the road?  (Why)

To get to the ugly guy's house.

????

Knock knock (Who's there?)

It's the chicken!

Joel: A man walked into a bar… and fell down.

What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had on stage?

Joel: It was a 90-minute show for railroad workers and it was completely silent the entire time.  Well there was one moment where someone in the back murmured, “This is supposed to be funny? Can I get another beer?!”

Hooray, my work matters!

Everyone has a good app idea. What’s yours?  

Joel: Ummmmm… an app that gives me good ideas for apps!

How has improv helped you in your career?

RJ: I use improv skills every day. Improv’s focus on collaboration and building on each other’s ideas with principles like “Yes, And” are absolutely essential for getting the most out of anything we do collaboratively, and as a designer a lot of my creative ideas come this way.

Treating our team like an improv ensemble cast - where everyone wins or loses based on the success of the team and not any individual - also helps make our team a healthy place where everyone has a say and brings all of their creative energy to the table.

Lastly, we’re presenting to clients all the time. We use skills similar to improv comedians to connect with our “audience” and adjust our material on the fly to respond to their feedback or reactions.

Joel: Improv has helped reshape almost every part of my life. I have learned that how I react on stage to a suggestion or what another actor is offering, is very similar to how I respond in real life to challenges and obstacles.  

One of the best places I’ve found in life, is when I’m open to new opportunities and in a position to act so that I can capitalize on them in a meaningful way.  I believe improv can be a vehicle to incorporate these values/traits into one’s own life.

Why should I sign up for your improv workshop at Galvanize on Tuesday, September, 12th? 

RJ: You’re going to learn how to explore new creative ideas and unlock innovation (as buzz-wordy as that sounds) and you’re going to do it through a crazy fun improv workshop. Even really good professional development events are rarely as enjoyable as this one will be - don’t miss it!

Joel: If you sign up RJ will guarantee you a new job, and a Tesla! It’s pretty amazing!

Register now for Pitch Lab: How To Use Improv Comedy As A Tool For Innovation! (sorry, Tesla not included)

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy Workshop!

AmeriCorps VISTA Pitch Lab Improv Comedy
Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members @ Pitch Lab 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members @ Pitch Lab 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members are called upon to strengthen climate-resilience planning and implementation in vulnerable communities.

These real-life superheroes provide services to U.S. cities by engaging community residents to improve resilience in low-income neighborhoods. 

In this role, they help equip low-income communities to better prepare for numerous risks and challenges, including those associated with climate change.

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy Workshop Joel Lutz RJ Owen

Pitch Lab was thrilled to help The AmeriCorps VISTA program utilize improv comedy skills to problem-solve within the vulnerable communities the VISTAs serve.

And no one knows better than improv coaches, RJ Owen & Joel Lutz how powerful improv comedy can be as a tool for creative problem-solving. 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA members

Through improv exercises like mirroring, 2-line scenes and spelling bees the VISTAs were able to hone in their active listening, collaboration and authenticity. Skills paramount to improving their effectiveness while impact volunteering. 

Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA improv comedy pitch lab workshop

Most Valuable Takeaways for The AmeriCorps VISTAs:

"I enjoyed the improv session because I tend to be a perfectionist. Sometimes it doesn't work out according to plan and I'm learning to embrace silence as a time to process the information given to me, so that I can give a thoughtful response."
"During the improv session I was able to get a better understanding of my co-VISTA and how we work together."
"An elevator pitch will only get you so far when reaching out to community members so having the improv session really stuck with me... and how I can react when residents throw me curve balls."
"The skills taught in improv comedy are incredibly invaluable for this kind of outreach and engagement work, as well as for life in general." 

AmeriCorps VISTAs Improv Comedy

We're grateful for the opportunity to work with The Cities of Service Resilience AmeriCorps VISTAs and are always excited to see improv comedy's "yes, and" approach make a positive impact! 

And a BIG THANK YOU to General Assembly Denver for making this workshop possible. 

If you'd like to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your team leverage improv comedy for innovation, creativity and team building, contact us!