Peak Communications Capacity
You're sitting in yet another interminable conference session. Man, this chair gets more uncomfortable by the millisecond. Who's that over there? He looks like Mike Meyers from this angle. Or maybe Mini Me. What's that interminable droning sound? Oops, that's the speaker going on and on about … whatever his topic is. You can't remember—your mind has been wandering for the past 10 minutes.
You slide back into your reverie and idly wonder if it's true that your memory gets worse as you age and whether there's anything to the folk wisdom that says you're okay as long as you can remember what you ate for dinner in the past week. I think I had grilled salmon a week ago. Or was it that you had to remember for 10 days? Uh oh, I can't quite recall. That can't be good.
But suddenly your attention is drawn back to the speaker, even though you can't quite put your finger on why. Something about his cadence, or pitch, or the way he paused and leaned away from the podium. You can just sense that he has momentarily diverged from his planned course and is about to extemporize.
If there's going to be anything memorable from this talk, it will be now, when the speaker is making remarks off the cuff. The earlier part of the talk could have been a prerecorded audio track, but this part is real, immediate, full-bandwidth. The speaker is operating at his peak communications capacity, and the audience senses that and reacts accordingly.
If you've ever attended a music recital by a particularly gifted artist, or a theatrical production in which the cast was having a great day, you've felt that same connection—a sense that there are higher planes of communication between human beings that we sometimes glimpse but don't often feel.
Comedians live or die by their ability to fully capture their audience's attention and take them on a shared journey. They use their humor like the boy in E.T. used Reese's Pieces to entice the alien to follow him; they bring the audience along line by line, laugh by laugh. And the audience pays them to do it, without even being rewarded with candy.
Bob Colwell (Computer Magazine, Sep 2005, At Random, Presentation Lessons from Comedians)
Music Mood: Mohammad Mounir - Ana Ba3shaq El-Ba7r