What Can Chief Executives Learn From Stand-Up Comedians?

by Roger Edward Jones

Given that most stand-ups couldn’t file their nails, let alone their annual accounts, you might expect this to be the shortest book in the world.

Indeed, there’s not a great deal to it. Just 50 pages with two sentences on each: a comment about how a comic behaves and what a businessman can learn from it. Author Roger Edwards Jones certainly seems to have learned the brevity of the one-liner from the world of comedy; while his capitalist leanings means he can happily charge £7.99 for this slender tome.

As you might expect, much of what businessmen can learn from comedians is based on communication. Good routines need to be unambiguous, told with confidence, unafraid to express a point of view and can be adapted if something unexpected happens – all things that would benefit someone giving a business presentation.

A couple observations suggest Jones hasn’t quite got the full measure of comedy, such as ‘few comedians are judgmental about other people’ – really? – or that ‘the only technology stand-up comedians use to deliver their routines is a microphone. They don’t use fancy graphics or hundreds of PowerPoint slides’, which would indicate he hasn’t been to the Edinburgh Fringe. But still the message not to rely on such technological props is valid.

Jones earns his living from corporate speaking and running seminars, so we can assume he knows what businesses need, or want, to hear. And he did force himself to go on stage of in front of a London comedy club audience to better understand the world of stand-up. Most of his 50 tips do seem to come from an appreciation of what a comic does; and his suggestions of what executives could take from that is good common-sense stuff.

You might think a successful businessman should already know most of this, but the lucrative world of managerial training suggests there’s always a need for it. Even an aspiring comedian might pick up a tip or two from this condensed wisdom.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

  • What Can Chief Executives Learn From Standup Comedians?: Fifty Essential Skills Top Performers Perfect by Roger Edward Jones is published by BookSurge at £7.99. Click here to order from Amazon

Published: 15 Jun 2009

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