In early 2017 I attended ‘MWUG’, or Manchester WordPress users group to give it it’s full name. I met a bunch of lovely people including Mike Little, one of the core developers of WordPress. I was surprised. I thought anyone involved the creation of WordPress must live in some kind of sun drenched villa on a mountain side in Silicon Valley. How wrong I was.
Mike was the really welcoming chair of the group, and they were on the lookout for people to give talks at their meet ups. Despite just arriving I offered. I’d been using WordPress since 2010. Despite a terrible memory I know that because WordPress helpfully releases a new theme design named after the year, every year, and I started with ‘TwentyTen’. Also being a comedian I’ll take any chance to get in front of a new audience.
I was prepping 15 minutes on how I’d used WordPress to publish a podcast when I realised what I had was quite funny but not very technically hardcore. Was my knowledge of WordPress enough for a tech savy audience? Was I glossing over the cracks in my knowledge with gags? Of course it didn’t have to be funny, I was probably over analysing, and on the day it was fine.
I went back a few months later and a half hour talk on my experience of building WordPress websites commercially. Again is wasn’t intend to be funny, but I couldn’t help it. That’s when I thought there might be a show in it. Sharing my feelings on the culture of constant updates, and making it funny. I’ve created bucket loads of websites using WordPress for all different manner of clients, but it never occurred to me to attempt to combine that with my comedy storytelling. So in a nutshell that’s the new show – Confessions of a WordPress fanatic! at the Greater Manchester fringe. Not a duffel coat in sight.
While helping a business client increase traffic to their website, I remarked how their Google Analytics marketing reports weren’t so different from taking a stand up comedy skills workshop.
That might sound like an odd thing to say – but the more I thought about it the more the comparison holds up.
Google Analytics reports feedback what’s happening on a website, what people are looking at and responding to. How long they stay engaged, and if they connect…becoming a customer or a fan. You can even see it in real time.
For that particular website, we added some recent case studies and removed technical jargon. By doing that we changed the language – the website’s voice – and added relatable stories (short case study videos) to draw people in and acquire new customers.
I used this metaphor again this week quite fittingly, at my first workshop at the Google Digital Garage in Manchester. They were really supportive in providing me with a space to lead my all elbows ‘Present Yourself!‘ comedy workshop, which mixes stand up comedy with presentation skills, team games, improv, public speaking tips and interpersonal skills all rolled together.
It covers the same ground as analytics, but with less artificial intelligence. It’s for humans instead of websites. It’s all about understanding your audience. How to stay engaged and avoid attention span ‘bounce rate’, and the language we use tell stories and connect with others. Again, all in real time. I guess you might call it the discussion points we have as ‘human analytics’.
Human Analytics (in front of an audience) :
Audience. Make eye contact with them, this will give you all the data you’ll need.
Behaviour. Be aware of your body language, relax and be comfortable.
Engagement. If what you’re saying isn’t working experiment off script with a different approach -this is where the scary fun learning happens.
Acquisition. Don’t try too hard to be funny. Just be yourself. Let your audience, or customers, come to you.
The feedback since I started running these sessions in 2015 has been great. Together with the help of the Business Growth Hub it’s evident that business leaders across the North West are really keen to integrate this kind of skills workshop into their own team training programmes.
Contact Rocket Steps to discuss how this training can help your business.
John Cooper, Comedian & Improviser. Public speaking workshops and training for UK businesses. Dealing with public speaking nerves and providing confident focus through unique and entertaining workshops