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Turn Butterflies Into Excitement: Q&A with Pitch Lab Comedian Daniel Reskin

In 2019, TEDxMileHigh and Pitch Lab joined forces to host an Adventure focused on the intersection of stand-up comedy techniques and public speaking. We loved what we learned from founder Jay Mays and veteran comic Daniel Reskin so much, we are partnering up again!

Join us virtually on Thursday, June 24, 2021, for our Adventure with Pitch Lab as we learn how to overcome public speaking anxiety by using proven stand-up comedy and improv techniques.

The summer of 2021 marks Pitch Lab’s five-year anniversary. Over these five years, Mays and Reskin have helped countless clients connect with their audience to deliver memorable, resonating sales pitches and speeches.

At its core, TEDxMileHigh is a public speaking platform, and if your dream is to stand on the infamous red dot one day to deliver your own TED talk, our Q&A with Pitch Lab pro Daniel Reskin will give you some helpful tips and tricks.

Q&A with Pitch Lab’s Daniel Reskin

Welcome back! Thank you for partnering with us again! Without giving too much away, what can Adventurers expect this time around?

Thank you! When it comes to presenting ideas, there is always more to explore. We are pumped to be back with new concepts and takeaways so people feel more like themselves while presenting. Also, Jay Mays and I learned a big dance routine but had to scrap it due to it being virtual this year. Next time!

Give us your best elevator pitch (pun intended) for Pitch Lab and how it was started. 

Pitch Lab uses principles from stand-up and improv to help people present ideas better. We don’t teach people HOW to be funny but to understand how comedians connect to their audiences so powerfully and use that in your own life.

Jay and I were stand-up comics together in the Miami scene in the 2000s. He evolved away from comedy quicker than I did and realized that stand-up left him with an extremely valuable tool belt. He’s a lifelong entrepreneur so it was only a matter of time before the chocolate and peanut butter got mixed together. I helped him flesh out the program and we’ve tightened through practice and performing, just like a stage act.

In your first Adventure, a tip that resonated deeply with audience members was “Turn your butterflies into excitement.” Can you elaborate on that?

That one helped me personally so much! Getting nervous about something means you care. Trying to feel purely calm isn’t just unnatural, it can put you even more in your head and take you further from your authentic self. 

I’ll always get butterflies, but I’m quicker to remind myself that nervousness is just excitement having a bad hair day.

Does your advice differ for giving a sales pitch vs. a public speaking event?

A bit. At this point, we’ve decided to focus more specifically on presentation skills though. This being said, whether it’s a sales pitch or public speaking gig, you have to be able to read the room. 

We’ve produced Pitch Lab workshops for major businesses, like the Miami Marlins, who are building sales teams, to scientists at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science conveying research data, to college students at CU Boulder’s Leeds School of Business who don’t know what they want.

There are core messages that are always the same to improve your delivery of a sales pitch or talk, but it’s really about honoring what our clients want to accomplish during our time together.

Aside from a cool topic, what do you think makes a good TED talk? Is there a stand-up technique that works the best during public speaking?

Solid material, solid delivery. Just like stand-up. 

Don’t try to act all TED-y, be yourself, but shiny.

You also need to be able to read the room, break the 4th wall, and adapt. There is something almost forgettable about a perfectly polished pitch delivered like a play. The ability to engage the audience and handle anything that may come your way is invaluable.

Great presenters and comedians both have the talent to authentically call the room and improvise because they know that going off-script often leads to magic.

In your opinion, what is the single worst thing you can do to ruin a public speech or pitch?

The worst thing you can do is not show up. Better to try, fail, and grow rather than not doing it at all. Unless you’re really really unprepared and have no idea what you’re doing. Then there’s no better time to fake a minor injury.

What kind of success have you seen from incorporating stand-up comedy techniques into sales pitching?

It’s satisfying to see people instantly click with some techniques we cover. Every tip is a little mental kung fu, and folks leave excited to go practice their new moves. When people follow up and mention a new outlook, I get warm fuzzies.

It’s nice to help people be less hard on themselves for not being instantly good at an insanely difficult thing. It’s an unbelievable feeling being able to bring a fresh perspective to the world of sales presentation skills.

Join Us for Pitch Lab’s Adventure this June!

Intrigued? Register for our Adventure with Pitch Lab on June 24 here! And, while you’re at it, register for TEDxMileHigh: All Together on June 26 to watch the best of the best try their hand at public speaking.

Photo by Richard Clyborne of Music Strive

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