More Useful Stuff
Anchor the structure
Overcomplicated stories bore people. Stick with the basics: premise, set-up, punch line. Shave your time to three or four minutes and offer multiple opportunities for your audience to laugh. For example, set up your anecdote about an awkward encounter with, “So last weekend I accidentally hit on my cousin.”
Then recount how you sent a drink over to a hot woman at the bar only to find out whenshe turned around that it was your cousin from across town. Re-enact your look of shock and embarrassment.
If your buddy butts in, play off his energy by responding then refocusing the spotlight. Let’s say he blurts out, “Oh, man, that sounds like when I was at the bar the other night…” counter with, “Yeah, dude. How crazy is that, right?” If you’re dealing with an attention hog, resort to the one-line quick-agree: “Oh, that’s cool.” Then move back quickly to your tale.
Keep ’em hooked
Engage your listeners through eye contact and brief interactions. Use rhetorical questions, like “Can you believe that?” and “Crazy, right?” or definitive statements, like “This will really blow you away.”
Channel voices, act out animated experiences, or pause for drama before the big finish.
Close out strong
Once the joke has landed, laugh casually – someone will probably jump in with his or her own story. Punch line fall flat? Ditch the awkward solo chuckle and buy some beers, or return to someone and ask, “What was your story again?”