We ❤️ Our Clients!

Our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better.

Click on the tiles below to learn how we helped these teams differentiate from the competition and build better relationships.

The value our clients see is an increase in revenue from winning more deals and retaining clients longer.

Want to learn more about how we can help your team? Let’s chat!


Want to learn more about how we can help your team be more confident, engaging presenters? Let’s chat!

The One Thing Your Audience Cares About Most

Applause Audience Cares Most About

It’s connection.

When it comes to presenting, it’s all about connection. 

So what’s the best way to connect with your audience?

Not by being perfect, but by being authentically you. Here’s how:

Umms and Ahhs Are Not Your Enemy, Just Ask Google

Have you heard of Google’s new AI assistant named Duplex

It’s artificial intelligence that will call up a restaurant to make a reservation for you. Or call your favorite salon to get you a hair appointment. 

Here’s the kicker. It sounds exactly like a human. 

In fact, the person on the other end of the phone has no idea they’re speaking to a robot. 

Creepy, right?

Do you know what Google did to make their artificial intelligence sound more human? 

They added filler words. 

That’s right, they gave their robots umms and ahhs to sound more human and help build a connection with the person on the other end of the phone.

And while artificial intelligence is trying to sound more human, us humans are doing everything we can to sound more like robots. 

The Problem with a Perfect Pitch 

I’ve heard tons of ways public speaking professionals try to eradicate umms and ahhs from their clients’ speech:

  • Using a bell to keep count (which does nothing but ratchet up anxiety)

  • Snapping a rubber band on your wrist (which hurts like heck)

  • Putting out a lit cigarette on your forearm (kidding) 

These are ridiculous methods that will do little to help in the long run. They may even create more fear and anxiety at the thought of presenting.

In today’s day and age, you won’t charm anyone with a flawless pitch delivered with Julliard precision. 

As Google’s AI deftly proves, used sparingly and authentically filler words will make you more relatable to your audience. 

It’s only when they become crutch words, used out of nervousness or lack of preparation, that they hurt your credibility.

Lobstertainment Human

How To Make Humans Sound More Human

Want to get better at presenting? Talk about what you know.

When I coach salespeople who are first learning how to sell a new technology, they usually sound awful. 

Their speech is filled with umms and ahhs, their body language is insecure, and they have a very hard time making a personal connection. 

Why? Because they don’t truly understand what they’re selling. 

And, if they don’t understand the product or service, how can they believe in it? 

That’s when I stop and tell them to forget the sales pitch. 

When I ask them to tell me a quick story about their favorite slice of pizza in Denver, a favorite childhood memory, or a funny story about their dog, they light up. 

The hesitation, along with umms and ahhs, are gone. Their body language opens up. They look like the great presenters they really are. 

Why? Because they believe in what they’re saying. They’re being their authentic self.



Your Takeaway

If you’re trying to work on your umms and ahhs, make sure you’re really prepared—just not to the point where you sound overly rehearsed. 

Have you really practiced enough? Done enough reps? Put in the work?

If you’re in a situation where you’re forced to pitch something that you truly don’t understand, or are feeling too inauthentic to pull it off, try turning it into a team sell. 

Bringing along a subject-matter expert from your organization will help you focus on what you do best, and your teammate will do the same. 

Authenticity rules when building connection. 

Your audience doesn’t care about perfection. They just want connection.

 

Present Everything Better

Our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better.

Pitch Lab produces custom workshops that break down the comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help your client-facing team build better relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more deals! 

Want to learn more? Let’s chat!

Making a Science Riot with Steve Nash! 

Science Riot Pitch Lab Interview Steve Nash Header

 What could possibly be funny about tree-ring dating or Russian gem carvings? 

Lots, if you hear about them from Steve Nash. As Director of Anthropology and Curator of Archaeology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (whew!), this author and Getty Leadership Institute graduate has a list of accomplishments longer than a Diplodocus tail. 

Steve mingles his scientific know-how into his stand-up comedy. He also serves on the board of Science Riot, a non-profit that teaches scientists to be better speakers by using stand-up comedy techniques in their presentations.

Pitch Lab caught up with Steve to ask him a few questions about his worst experience on stage, what’s so funny about ancient Pompeii and why every scholar needs to work on their public speaking skills:

 

How do you describe what you do for a living to your kids? 

I study humanity in all its absurd, ridiculous glory. I’m therefore a kid in a candy store.

 

What are you most proud of in your career thus far? 

Having worked at two fantastic museums, having traveled widely, and having a productive working relationship with Russian colleagues during a time of geopolitical tension. Art and Science above Politics.

 

Dinosaurs or UFOs? 

UFOs, for they tell us a lot more about our own insecurities then they do about extraterrestrial life. 

Steve Nash Dinner

If you could invite three people to dinner—living, dead, fictional, or real—who would they be?

Leonardo da Vinci. The embodiment of genius and expansive curiosity, coupled with a horrible business acumen and a remarkable inability to complete important projects. A HUMAN genius to be sure. 

Curly Howard of The Three Stooges. A comedic genius, with demonstrable grace and athleticism, who also has an impeccable sense of timing—all the while commenting on social inequality in the 1930s and 1940s. Who could ask for more? 

A Neanderthal woman. Neanderthal men get all the focus and perhaps credit when we think of “cavemen.” What was it like to be alive 40,000 years ago, and to be a Neanderthal? Surely, a woman would have more insights…

 

If you could travel to any time period (backward or forward) where would you go?

Renaissance Italy. From a health and safety perspective, it would have been a horrible place to live. But from an enlightenment perspective, what a time! Throw off the shackles imposed by the Catholic Church to embrace Humanism and the belief that life here on earth is worth living AND enjoying. Thrilling! 

 

Steve Nash Truck Gaze

What’s your all-time favorite exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science? 

The “A Day in Pompeii” traveling exhibition in 2012. A tragically precise moment recorded archaeologically. 

I was so intrigued by this time period I wrote an entire comedy set on the subject

  

Who is the comedian you admire most and why?

Dave Chappelle. A brilliant comedian who infuses his jokes with keen and often biting commentary on social justice issues. Confidence personified. 

 

Steve Nash Comedian Science Riot

You’ve called stand-up comedy the hardest things you’ve ever done professionally. Why is that? 

It went against EVERYTHING I was formally trained to do. The structure of the routine was different. The cadence was different. The expectation was different. 

 

What is the best piece of comedy advice you’ve received?

Stop and pause. Recognize where the audience is during your routine, then work with that flow. Acknowledge interruptions and jokes that don’t do so well. It’s a dialogue, not a soliloquy. 

 

How has stand-up comedy helped you in your career?

It’s diversified the experiences and opportunities I am involved in and with. I meet a totally different crowd of professionals who are smart and insightful, and I get to share laughs with them. 


What’s the worst stage fright you’ve ever had before a presentation, and how did you get through it? 

First: Giving a presentation on acid-base titration in high school chemistry, in a suit. I didn’t get through it. I bombed horribly. 

Second: Doing my first stand-up comedy routine at Science Riot at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in 2016. I memorized the routine so well that I did it with muscle memory, plowed through it, then took a deep, deep breath at the end. It was addictive!

 

The first time you saw Pitch Lab were you surprised how well stand-up comedy techniques translated to public speaking and presentation skills?

Yes! They’re not necessarily easy techniques, but they’re simple and actionable once you understand them. 

 

Why should every museum professional and scholar stop what they’re doing and attend a Pitch Lab workshop right now?

Because scholarly presentations are a kind of performance, and all performances can be improved with practice and awareness. I am tired of horrible presentations and, quite frankly, can’t understand why scholars are so willing to spend so much time and effort on the content without spending even a minimum amount of time focused on the delivery. It works!


Steve Nash GLI improv


While Steve stays crazy busy in his professional life, if he ever expands into giving museum tours, you know the guide you’ll want to choose.

Ladies and gentlemen, a big round of applause to Steve Nash for helping the world of science find its funny!  

5 Tips for Teaching Public Speaking to Your Kids!

Elementary School OI

When Pitch Lab was born we were certain only salespeople would attend our workshops. What a surprise to see the room also filled with so many talented marketers, project managers and executives!  

What we learned is most attendees have one thing in common: the fear of public speaking prevents them from landing their dream job, getting the promotion they deserve or helping their team succeed.

So when our local elementary school asked for public speaking coaches to volunteer their time, I jumped at the opportunity to give my daughter and her friends an advantage we all wish we had at their age.

And truth be told I've never been great at sports, so I was also stoked to be called “Coach.”

Then came the hard part: figuring out how to translate the techniques we use to help seasoned professionals… to a room full of second graders.

How do you simplify the message to resonate with eight-year-olds?

But fear not, teaching public speaking to kids doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 5 easy ways to give your kids a head start: 

 

1 - Content Is Key

Make sure your kid actually enjoys what he or she is reciting. Don’t put more pressure on what’s actually being said than you have to.

Young kids are naturally going to gravitate towards Lego Batman over Abe Lincoln, so use that to your advantage. Get your kids started by reciting a funny poem from Shel Silverstein, a page out of Hop on Pop or their favorite monologue from Captain Underpants.

And to start out, keep it as short as possible. Comedy Works gives its first-timers two minutes max on New Talent Night. Even those two minutes can feel like an eternity when things don’t go right, trust me.

 

2 - Manage Stage Fright from the Start

As a parent, I’m a huge proponent of validating your kids’ feelings. When it comes to stage fright, you need to do the same thing.

Share with your child that it’s not about getting rid of the butterflies in your tummy, it’s about getting the butterflies to fly information

During class, instead of trying to calm down before we went on stage, we stood up tall in our best Wonder Woman/Superman pose and said, “I AM EXCITED!” 

The superhero posture gives your child a subconscious feeling of confidence and also leads to a few laughs to keep it fun.

Furthermore, studies show that reframing public speaking anxiety as excitement leads to feeling more in control, and ultimately a better performance.

 

3 - There’s Power in Dramatic Pause

Most children tend to race through content while performing on stage. Maybe they’re excited. Maybe it’s a strategy to cover up their stage fright. Or maybe it’s simply because they want to get it over with. 

Here’s the punchline. Your child doesn’t talk too fast. He or she just isn’t pausing enough. 

Don’t tell your kid to slow down. Rather, teach her where to pause to allow the listener to catch up and build tension where needed.

Like a graphic designer uses white space, that’s how you need to instruct your child to use dramatic pauses.

 

4 - Over-prepare

When it comes to public speaking, nothing matches the advantage of preparation. Forget coaching your child's body language; keep focused on practice.

The silver bullet for helping your kid is repetition. 

As your child memorizes the content, her delivery will become more authentic and her body language will improve naturally. Start slow and build momentum as you go. 

At school, we practiced weekly in the classrooms, but their homework was to recite their piece two times a day. Every day.

 

5 - Give Lots of Positive Feedback

Never start critiquing right away. In fact, don’t do anything to discourage your child while practicing. 

Say you’re proud of him or her for getting up there, and encourage her to keep going. Your positive feedback is paramount. Build her self-confidence and the rest will fall into place. 

You’re giving your kid a head start on a skill that they will use for the rest of their lives. Is there really anything more to do than applaud? 

Pitch Lab is More Than Just Child’s Play

Our clients are smart people who do amazing work but want help presenting their ideas better. 

Pitch Lab produces custom workshops that break down the comedy techniques the pros use on stage to help your team team build better relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more clients.

Want to learn more about how we can help your client-facing team? Let’s chat!

Nick Offerman's Secret to Success

Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness

Chasing success can be grueling.

 

Some nights I go to bed victorious. 

 

Some days I feel like I came up short... as an entrepreneur, a husband or a Dad.

 

But we’re harder on ourselves than anyone else is. 

 

In the midst of it all, are we taking enough time to enjoy what we have right now? Even though we haven’t hit these arbitrary goals we’ve put on ourselves? 

 

In this 2-minute video, Nick Offerman talks about how he was able to remain patient and happy while waiting for his big break on Parks and Recreation. 

  

After watching this video I thought about how much of my own happiness I’m withholding until after I’ve “made it”. 

  

I hope it also inspires you to take some time for yourself this summer and put happiness first. 

 

Wishing you lots of success… and the patience to get there. 

Before his big break on the hit TV show 'Parks and Recreation', Nick Offerman spent 16 years as a struggling actor. Here's what that challenging time taught the star about happiness and patience.

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 great example is Deadpool -- when Ryan Reynold's snarky humor and profanity is directed toward you 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? 

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 frequently discuss Jim Gaffigan in our workshops, 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.

Want to learn more about how breaking the fourth wall will help your team build better relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more deals? Let's chat! 

 

3, 2, 1… Xero’s "Laugh & Learn" Public Speaking Workshop!

Xero logo
Pitch Lab & Xero Team Laughter

Xero’s leadership team believes no matter your role, the ability to communicate confidently and effectively brings real value to the organization.  

To this end, Xero hosts monthly “Lightning Talk Sessions” giving its employees a chance to sharpen their public speaking skills.

In support of this program Pitch Lab was invited in for a special “Laugh & Learn” workshop where attendees had the opportunity to receive actionable feedback on how to improve their timing, delivery and room command.

Pitch Lab & Xero Team pic

After learning Pitch Lab’s Top 5 Public Speaking Tips, it was time to practice and reflect on how these skills can be immediately implemented in their next client meeting.

Comedy Karaoke Ice-Breaker!

Comedy Karaoke Ice-Breaker!

Mitch Hedberg One-Liners — This time with Dramatic Pause!

Mitch Hedberg One-Liners — This time with Dramatic Pause!

Improv Comedy Mirroring Exercises — because all non-verbal communication is good information

Improv Comedy Mirroring Exercises — because all non-verbal communication is good information

Time for reflection about how these skills will translate to more Productive client and team meetings!

Time for reflection about how these skills will translate to more Productive client and team meetings!

What the Xero Team Said About Pitch Lab:

“Pitch Lab was extremely engaging and informative, just what you want to see in a public speaking class! I loved the fun aspect of the program, while still incorporating useful, actionable tips!”

“Pitch Lab was awesome… Improv comedy is a powerful tool to build group mind in a constructive way that really taps into the power of collective thought.”

“I learned that if we focus on other people, we can convert stage fright to excitement. I also learned that pauses allow us to communicate better, and authenticity connects us with our audience better. I love the workshop and I hope we can have more workshops like this.”

“Using stand up comedy techniques in public speaking also helps us foster that human value that we strive to be here. When he mentioned that Google robots use "um" in order to sound more human, that really resonated with me. We shouldn't be trying to present like robots, we should try to be ourselves and just insert enthusiasm and authenticity. I would love to attend more sessions!”

Pitch Lab & Xero Jay contact us

Your audience doesn’t want perfection, they want your connection.

Want to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help your client-facing team differentiate from the competition, build better relationships and win more deals! Let’s chat!

Boulder Startup Week 2019

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Pitch Lab at Boulder Startup Week 2019

We had a blast helping Boulder Startup Week founders use authenticity and vulnerability to punch up their next investor pitch!

If you’re not familiar with Boulder Startup Week, simply put it’s a celebration of entrepreneurship.

It brings all walks of the startup world together who share a common goal: bring to life exciting, valuable and successful companies. And to peacock with loud, flashy socks!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If you missed our session check out this amazing recap via Cal Brackin at On Board Innovations.

Pitch Lab Boulder Startup Week recap

Congrats to Boulder Startup Week on your 10 year anniversary. And keep climbing, Boulder!

Museum Leaders Exhibit Sangfroid at Getty Leadership Institute

Getty Leadership Institute Logo
Pitch Lab at Getty Leadership Institute Hero Image

Museum exhibits inevitably captivate a room. Pitch Lab teamed up with senior-level museum leaders so they can do the same.

 

We were thrilled when the Getty Leadership Institute at Claremont Graduate University invited Pitch Lab to participate in its 2019 executive education programs for museum leaders. 

 

One program was GLI 2019, for senior-level museum executives. The other was NextGen 2019, for mid-level managers tapped as the next generation of museum leaders. 

 

Most participants were from visual art museums and cultural organizations around the world. Many were based in the U.S., while others came from nine other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. 

 

Steve Nash Daniel Reskin Getty Leadership Institute Pitch Lab

What they all had in common (and wanted from Pitch Lab) is explained by Steve Nash, Director of Anthropology and Curator of Archeology, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science:

 

“Museum leaders do a lot of public speaking—to staff, donors, civic leaders, and community members. Pitch Lab was invited to the Getty Leadership Institute to help the next generation of museum leaders take their communication skills to the next level!”

 

93% Pitch Lab GLI

Since 93% of what you communicate comes from your stage presence, body language and vocal tone, the focus was on enhancing all of the above for the museum leaders. 

 

Participants dove into interactive activities, including comedy karaoke, which helped them learn how to utilize their body and voice to present in an engaging, entertaining and unforgettable way. And those activities all included proven techniques from much-loved comedians like Chris Rock, Robin Williams and Ellen. 

Pitch Lab breakout exercises GLI

In addition to learning how to improve their delivery and room command, GLI leaders learned new tips to increase audience engagement, create more effective collaboration, and manage that pesky thing called stage fright.

 

As with all of our Pitch Lab workshops, these techniques were practiced in a safe environment with the goal of learning new skills while having fun. 


Steve Nash Improv GLI

 

What Getty Leadership Institute said about Pitch Lab:

 

“This was the best public speaking training session I've ever attended. Stand-up + improv comedians show how it SHOULD be done.” 

 

“This session was inspirational, engaging and fun!  It was a nice icebreaker and a great way to begin the program.”

 

“Thank you for telling us TED isn't the only way to tell a story. I appreciated the inclusion of all emotions, even the hard ones.” 

 

“Pitch Lab was a perfect way to kick-off the week—their tips and suggestions stayed with me through the rest of the week and I found myself trying to use them all when speaking up, sharing out and giving my final capstone presentation.” 

Sizing Up Pitch Lab

Want to learn more about how Pitch Lab can help organization be more effective communicators, differentiate from the competition and build better relationships? Let’s chat!

5 Stand-Up Comedy Tips to Be a Better Public Speaker!

My dream has been to one day get Pitch Lab into a comedy club.

It’s taken years.

Voodoo TEDx Pitch Lab

You see, the comedy stage is where I overcame my fear of public speaking.

When I first began using the techniques I learned as a stand-up comedian: authenticity, vulnerability & breaking the 4th wall — not only did my presentations improve, but I started building real connections.

And beat my stage fright.

Jay Voodoo TEDx Pitch Lab

What we’ve learned at Pitch Lab over the years is most of our attendees have one thing in common:

The fear of public speaking prevents them from landing their dream job, getting the promotion they deserve, or helping their team succeed.

Voodoo TEDx Pitch Lab Comedy Karaoke

That’s why partnering with TEDxMileHigh Adventures & Voodoo Comedy Playhouse to give back to Denver has been a highlight of our journey so far.

Voodoo TEDx Pitch Lab Daniel Reskin

Want the Top 5 tips we shared to build better relationships, differentiate from the competition and win more clients?

 
Voodoo TEDx Pitch Lab Crowd Shot