Subtly Charismatic: Humor And Misdirection

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• One quick technique is misdirection, where a statement has two parts: the first is expected and ordinary, the second contradicts it with unexpected and comedic results. Sarcasm can be powerful but is best when directed at yourself and used with those you are more familiar with. Ironic humor is similar to sarcasm, but more focused on the observation of the contrast between the expected and the actual.

• The world of improv has a lot to teach us about good conversational chemistry. One improv rule is not to hold on to any outcome too tightly, and be ready to follow the emerging flow of the conversation.

• Another rule is to rely on quick connections to make sure you always have something to say. This can be practiced by free associating one, two, or five words. Good improv is about having faith in the conversation’s direction, and your ability to be okay with where it goes.

• The 1:1:1 method of storytelling is a mini story technique that relies on one action, summarized in one sentence, that evokes one main emotion in the listener. This keeps your stories engaging, short, and effective. Alternatively, you can ask for other people’s stories.

• Conversational diversity is about having as many different tools in your toolkit as possible. Hypothetical questions are one such tool. These kinds of “what if . . .?” questions inject some excitement, creativity, and unpredictability, while showing something interesting about the person giving the answer.

• Finally, thinking out loud can be a way to turn monologues into dialogues. If we speak freely and without self-censoring, we break the ice, share ourselves honestly, and invite (rather than demand) others to join us.

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