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“Jokes are America’s contribution to literature,” according to business coach and comedian Tim Davis, the luncheon keynote speaker at the 2010 Small Business Tech Summit in New York. His presentation "Stand-Up Comedy Techniques to Increase Sales" was highlighted recently in The Wall Street Journal Online.

“In this economy, where most people are hesitant to buy, we still have to sell,” says Davis, who started doing seminars and coaching after he noticed a similarity between comedy and sales principles. “In both cases, the objective is to get a reaction from the audience.”

I asked Davis how these principles also could be applied to marketing and public relations. “Sales has an advantage in some ways because they can hear the person’s voice on the phone or read their body language in person. But if you understand how your audience thinks, you can anticipate how they will respond and set up your message just like a comedian would, complete with punch line or call to action. Copy should have rhythm and timing, and should be designed to get a reaction from the audience, just like a joke. Comedians design copy to make people laugh. Business copy should make people reach for the phone.”

Davis also advises us to try to make messages as entertaining as is practical. He says, “If it’s not entertaining, it’s just information.”

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Helena Bouchez is principal and owner of Helena B Communications ( Reach her via or follow her on Twitter (@HelenaBouchez).

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