Billy Crystal steps forward on stage, smiles and in that familiar way a relative walks into your house and asks for a cup for tea, Billy says how much he loves Melbourne and launches into his first story (this is how I remember it).
“You guys are so good with your cell phones. So respectful. I was in Broadway a couple of weeks ago, doing my performance, and I notice a lady in the 3rd row talking on her phone. So I walk over to her, I’m still performing, and I start to stare at her. She cups her hand over the phone and in a stage whisper says, ‘I really have to go, he’s now staring at me.'” The audience laughs.
Billy then follows this cautionary tale with another.
“I then look up to the balcony and I can see a small red light blinking in the darkness. There’s someone videoing the show. That’s not right. That’s illegal. So I send security up there to sort things out. They get back to me after a while and I ask them whether police escorted the scoundrel out the door. Not necessary, security tells me, the red light was from a guy’s oxygen machine. Billy pauses and says, I guess we can’t get him to turn it off?” Another big laugh.
In two little anecdotes Billy sets up the rules of the room (no phones and no recording) but does it in a way where the audience laughs and doesn’t feel like they’ve just been told.
It’s great to see a master storyteller at work. Perhaps you can use some version of Billy’s technique to set up your next workshop or presentation. But remember, you can’t just make things up for effect.
To be an effective business storyteller requires practice. Anecdote’s programs are designed to work in a no-nonsense way in a business setting, you can learn more about them here
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:
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