Laughter is the universal language that breaks down barriers and opens the door to connection. As The Undercover Speaker, Jennifer Locklin’s mission is to bring unexpected joy and humor to every speaking engagement. In this episode, she joins Juliet Clark to share her unique approach to speaking at meetings, trainings, and events—which is all about adding unexpected fun and laughter to engage the audience. As a coach or author, it’s crucial to use humor in your speaking style to engage your audience. In her talk, Jennifer provides valuable tips on captivating your audience. She also shares her background and how she got started in the speaking industry. Tune in to learn how to become an undercover speaker. Add some humor to your next speaking engagement!
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This episode’s guest is one of my buddies from The Dames. For those of you who don’t know what The Dames is, it is a 6, 7, and 8-figure group of women entrepreneurs run by Meghann Conter. It is a fabulous group. We don’t ascribe to the JV affiliate or that whole concept that’s out there. We are about power partnering with other women and getting to know those women. We’re building a connected community, not only as business associates but as friends as well.
Before we get started, run over and grab your free copy of Breakthrough Author Magazine. You can find it at BreakthroughAuthorMagazine.com. Every month, you will have it delivered to your inbox. We don’t do any solicitation. We don’t try to sell you stuff over there. It’s a good place to find information if you’re thinking about writing, building an author platform, or publishing a book. This episode’s guest is Jennifer Locklin. I’m super excited. She is The Undercover Speaker, adding unexpected fun and laughter to meetings, trainings, and events. I’m going to let Jennifer tell you the rest. Here’s Jennifer.
Jenny, welcome. It’s nice to have you.
It’s nice to be here.
I’m so excited to talk about our topic because many of our clients that are authors that I work with are speaking coaches. It seems like they have the same pattern for the speech and the same thing you do. They don’t add humor in like you do and all of the things that keep a crowd interested. How did you get started with all of this?
It’s the same as any other position business. If you’re in something and there’s a challenge, you want to fix it. I do speak and I use a lot of humor. What was happening is when I would go to women’s groups or companies, they would say, “Get ready. You’re going to laugh so hard. This is so hilarious,” or maybe they would promote it so that people would come, “We’re going to have so much laughter and comedy. This is hilarious,” whether it was virtual or in person.
You know how it is with virtual. Sometimes people aren’t totally paying attention. Maybe they left and they were thinking, “That wasn’t that funny.” It was almost disappointing. It’s all about expectations. It’s like saying, “This is the best book you have ever read. It is hilarious.” You’re expecting going into this book thinking you are going to be peeing in your pants laughing. It’s that expectation. That was not working. I thought, “How can I fix this? How can I still add humor? How can I get everyone to have a good time and yet not expect that pressure?”
I came up with what’s called The Undercover Speaker. What that means is unexpected laughter. I get introduced depending on the audience as an industry expert, an award-winning specialist, or a raving fan client. Whether it’s virtual or in-person, the people are like, “It’s an ordinary speaker. Who is this lady?” I once was a Cigna Health representative, so you can imagine how excited the crowd was to listen to me. I was there telling them that they’re going to be rewarded and earn points for donating blood, sweat, and sperm. They were like, “Wait, what?”
The point is I would be introduced as an expert, and the audience would believe that that’s who I was because it was an impressive bio. As an author, you’re the expert. If you’re the expert, people believe you. It’s amazing what people will believe. That’s what I would do. I then string the audience along. I say all kinds of crazy stuff. Now, you’re probably wondering, “What kinds of crazy stuff?” Depending on the audience, if it’s accountants, I’m there as a raving fan client, “I want to let thanks to all of you. I have not paid taxes since 2018. I have no idea I could have two sets of books. You guys are amazing. The owner of this firm was very ethical. She’s the most amazing woman.” The accountants were looking side-eyed at each other. “Which one of you did this with this woman?” It’s so out of control and over the top.
Finally, we let them know they have been punked. “This was a setup.” Why would we do this to them? There’s the laughter and they’re like, “I’m so glad that this was not true.” We then tell them the real reason that we did this is that having fun, lightening up, and not taking ourselves so seriously helps us be more productive and happier at work. The best part is the after-effect. Once the call is over, they’re talking and laughing about this. It’s a great connection.
If you’re an author who uses humor, you know that humor connects you as the author. If you use humor, it gets your reader to connect with you. It’s the same thing as a speaker. It connects you with your audience and it keeps the audience connected as well. Does that make sense so far on what it is and why I started it?
Yes. I love it. There is nothing worse than meeting an author in person and seeing this personality in the book and then the person doesn’t match up. I love this because I say that sarcasm is my second language and I’m fluent in it. You’re going to get that in my books and talk. I had a talk a while back where I told people for the Q&A, “I don’t know anything about the topic, but fire away.” People are like, “Wait.” I love this approach. Tell me, when you did this, have you had any comedic training? Our friend, Jen Coken, trained a bunch of people in The Dames. By the way, Jenny is a Dame. They trained to be comedians for their talks. Did you do any of that?
That was powerful when you said about you meet the author and then they don’t match up is the same thing with speaking. Speaking and writing a book are not performances. You’re not trying to be someone else. It should be genuine from your heart. When you speak, a lot of times, people think it’s a performance. They have to be someone else and then, that is not going to make you feel comfortable when you’re speaking. That’s the whole point. If you’re an author and thinking, “I want to do more speaking, but I’m uncomfortable speaking to an audience,” that’s okay. You can bring that up in the introduction.
Juliet is an author. She’s written three books and coaches others. What she’s not is a speaker. She is not a keynote speaker. This is not something that she feels comfortable with. If you sense that she’s nervous or speaking quickly, the fact that she has all this information, that’s the most important part. You can bring that up in the introduction. I just wanted to piggyback on what you said.
That’s interesting. I don’t know about you, but even though I am a seasoned speaker, I still get nervous at the beginning every time. I stand there and my legs wobble. You probably can’t tell, and then all of a sudden, it will click and it’s fine. It’s always been like that. I was used to pitching and advertising. In the first year that I was pitching, interesting enough, I used to wear reading glasses. When I pitched, I could look around, but I couldn’t see the audience. They were fuzzy and that made me feel better. Once I shed those, I still get nervous.
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “I’m nervous to speak,” you might confuse nerves with excitement. My dad is 81, and he has been speaking for many years. A lot of times, people think that they’re nervous, but you’re excited. Being excited is a good thing. If you didn’t feel anything, then that probably would mean you shouldn’t be doing it because you’re not going to be very passionate about what you’re talking about. That’s a good thing.Sometimes we think we’re nervous when we’re actually excited. And it’s a good thing. If you don’t feel anything, it may mean that you shouldn’t be doing it because you’re not going to be very passionate about it. Click To Tweet
Tell us a little bit about your, “Don’t compete, create,” because I love this concept. It goes along with the market research that I tell our people to do.
The saying is, “Don’t compete, create.” That was originally stated by Earl Nightingale. He’s the dean of personal development from many years ago. It was 1957. Find out what everyone else is doing and don’t do it. I learned that from my dad, whom I have a business with. My dad, Joel Weldon, has followed that because he learned it from Earl Nightingale. He taught it to me. There are different ways. If you’re thinking, “What do you mean find out what everyone else is doing and don’t do it?” it could be little things.
For me, what I did was all the other comedians or humor speakers were introduced as a comedian. The audience is expecting it. That was causing friction and a challenge because as I said, it didn’t always go over as great as I wanted it to. I’m not a Jim Gaffigan or Amy Schumer level of comedian. I figured that out. I don’t also want to be an ordinary speaker because I like to use humor. I don’t want to be an inspirational speaker.
I found out what everyone else is doing in the speaking world and didn’t do it. I then found out what everyone else is doing in the comedy world and didn’t do it. It took some time and then I came up with my own way, but you could do the same thing. You figure out what is the challenge and what is not working. Let’s say for a lawyer. Everyone knows that one of the things that people don’t like as a client when you have a lawyer is you get billed for every phone call that you have with them. A lawyer could do no-fee phone calls. Maybe they charge more up at the front end, but they don’t nickel and dime you for every phone call.
Another example for a dentist. No one likes going to the dentist. Think of a fun way like being a singing dentist or something fun so that it gets the patients to be a little less dreading going to see them. We’re here in Phoenix, Arizona. My daughter works for a restaurant called Oregano’s Pizza Bistro. They have Italian food, salads, and pizzas. They did something smart. They figured out what everyone else is doing and didn’t do it.
They get a lot of families coming in, so there are a lot of young kids. If young kids are starving and fussing, then the parents aren’t happy. When they come out to get your drink order, they bring out a tray with raw dough and they give the kids dough to play with. It keeps the kids busy and happy. It creates a big mess but it keeps them happy. If the kids are happy, the parents are happy. It could be little things like that. What’s the problem? They’re having to wait for the food. The kids are throwing a fit. Let’s try to occupy the kids. This is a low-budget solution.
The other one was when you go to networking events, especially virtual ones, you see everyone on camera. They go in order and everyone does their little 30-second commercial. It’s long and you wonder like, “What do they do?” They all start sounding the same. Before I came up with The Undercover Speaker, I came up with a BS, a fake business trying to get people’s attention.
As an author, if you don’t get your reader’s attention, they’re not going to continue reading the book. You already know that. I said, “I’m the CEO and Founder of It’s a Crummy Life. We sell breadcrumbs, white wheat, sourdough, and soon-to-be marble rye. People these days are not willing to eat a full slice of bread so there are breadcrumbs. They aren’t just for ducks.”
You’re not supposed to feed ducks with breadcrumbs. I live on a river out here.
You might be thinking, “This woman is ducking crazy,” and I am. I then would tell them it’s fake. People are like, “Wait.” You’re just trying to get that head tilt like, “What?” and then they lean in, “Is she serious?” It went with what I was doing. Through all of you authors out there, I’ve also said, “I own a book business. We partner with Amazon. It’s an anonymous book business. We send anonymous books to people specifically maybe your clients or exes that need to get a hint.”
“Some of our popular book titles are How Your Controlling Personality Is Affecting Your Genitals and What Your Dog Thinks of Your Small Salary.” I ramble off a bunch of fake titles and then I say, “I’m just kidding.” That’s what I do. I lie to the audience and make them think something. Once the cat is out of the bag, we talk about the benefits of laughter and they go, “I get it.”
I love that because anytime you have an audience that’s laughing, they are far more open to any information that you give them versus have you ever been in a room where other people think they’re an expert at what you are doing, uptight, and determined that they’re not going to like what you have to say. If someone wanted to work with you, where would we find you? What exactly do you do when you work with people? Do you work with anybody? Do you have a fake business?
“Do you work?” is the question.
I have a business, but I wouldn’t say I work.
There are two ways. One is some companies hire me because they are like, “Our meetings are boring. We’ve got this long training and that’s a whole day of intense information. We got to get our audience to get energized and stay engaged. Our mental health is declining. We need some fun.” That’s one way I work with people.
The other way is this. As you said, you’re an author, you want to do some speaking and you want some help getting coached in how to make your message more clear and engaging, and then add some humor. As a side note, when you speak, one of the biggest objections people have as speakers or even maybe authors is, “I’m afraid to use humor because I don’t want to offend my audience.” We know how easily people these days are offended.
I was going to mention that because a lot of what I do is self-deprecating humor. If you listen to me, you’d think I’m the stupidest person on the planet.
That’s a smart choice. People are very hesitant to use humor because they go, “We’ve got international people and I’m concerned that I’m going to say something and they’re not going to get it. It’s going to offend the audience. I’m talking to women or men,” which is a valid concern. There are ways that you can use humor whether you’re writing or speaking, and that is, as you said, the easiest safest way is self-deprecating humor. Zoom is great because you can’t tell how tall or short people are, but on a good day, I’m 5 feet.
She’s a midget. Was that politically incorrect?
I was told, “Don’t ever use that word.” I can make comments about me being short because I’m making fun of myself. My dad is 81 in 2023. When he speaks, he makes fun of how old he is. Nobody is going to say, “I was offended by the fact that you commented on yourself.” At least I’ve never seen that. You can do self-deprecating humor like you said you use.
You can also tell stories. As an author, pretty much all you’re doing is you’re telling stories. You can add humor to your stories. It doesn’t have to be a lot of humor. It could be sprinkled in like seasoning. There are easy ways to do that. If somebody needs help with that, I can help them with their speaking and adding humor.
I love that you help people do that. I have a question for you, probably out of the blue, can you help somebody with no sense of humor get a sense of humor?
When people say, “I want to be a funny speaker, but I don’t think I’m a funny person.” Like being an author, you weren’t born an author. That’s a learned skill. Humor is a learned skill. Some people have a talent for it, but it is a skill. The easiest way to become even funnier is to have a good sense of humor. You might be wondering, “How do I get a good sense of humor?” Some people think, “I got a great sense of humor,” but they don’t.
Even after a couple of shots, they don’t have one. We’re not recommending that you drink on stage here.
That’s such a good point. The first step is you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself. If you’re wondering, “How do you do that?” the definition of comedy, based on what comedians say, is pain plus time equals comedy. I’m not talking about a tragic death. I’m talking about you who broke your leg when you were 23. It was probably pretty painful, but now that you’re 47, the time has passed. You probably have some good stories about that and you can laugh about it. You got divorced and it was super painful and very hard, but now, years have gone by and you can look back. Hopefully, there’s something you can laugh about that.
When my daughter was 8, we were driving the school carpooling. If you’ve ever driven a school carpool, it’s the most stressful thing in the world. We were running late and I was all stressed out. She goes, “Mom,” and I said, “Yes.” She goes, “With that sunlight coming in through the window,” and I said, “Yes,” and she said, “I can see all the hair on your chin.” That was pretty painful, at the time, but now the time has passed. I’m now shaving and plucking, and we laugh about it. Hopefully, that will help you remember that. You can laugh about things after time has gone by. That’s the first step.
Look at old yearbook photos. Old photos of your hair or clothing. You can laugh about that. Watch funny movies. There are so many funny Instagram, TikTok, and funny reels and memes that people share. Start looking and sharing those. You start to giggle and it’s like a muscle. It will start getting stronger. You’ll start thinking more things are funny and then, you will be able to find the humor in almost anything. That is more than just for business or it makes me feel good. That can save your life if you can laugh about something and lighten up because life is hard.
It is. That is a skill to be able to look back over something that happened years ago. If you’re an optimist, this is easy because I survived, but if you take yourself too seriously, you could get in a lot of trouble with that. I have tons of stuff as you do that is brutal about the chin. Where can we find you? You mentioned LinkedIn and you have something to give us too.
I’m going to give a five-minute video snippet. If you need a laugh, you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re not sure whether you have a sense of humor, I promise you you’re going to love this little five-minute video snippet. It was when I was pretending to be an animal energy healing expert.
I went on the Venice Art Walk when I worked at Chiat\Day, and there was someone on the bus with us and that was their job, an animal energy healing and she called herself a psychic too. She was telling us about this horse she was talking to. It’s Venice, California, and we’re in the back of the bus and we’re like, “Is she familiar?” She’s like a crazy tent person who lives on the page, but it was her actual business.
This is not so much working with animals. It’s teaching you and the people on the call that they’ll see on this video, that you can tap into your inner land and sea animals to help you destress. You’ll see people on the virtual call practicing breathing through their gills and also practicing breathing through their turtle butt.
Is that the way turtles breathe?
Turtles breathe through their cloaca. It’s a real thing. It’s a hole in their rear. I teach the audience how through their cloaca. I told you people will believe anything.
I know a few people that do breathe that way. Jenny, thank you so much for being on. I appreciate it.
I’ve got two quotes about laughter. One is, “Laughter is a lot like a windshield wiper. It doesn’t stop the rain, but it allows you to keep going.” That’s a serious one, but you’ll probably like this one better. “Laughter is a smile that had an orgasm.”“Laughter is a lot like a windshield wiper. It doesn’t stop the rain, but it allows you to keep going.” Click To Tweet
I do like that one.
I hope you had a lot of orgasms.
Thank you, Jenny, so much for being on.
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- Jennifer Locklin
- Joel Weldon
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- Five-Minute Video Snippet
About Jennifer Locklin
THE UNDERCOVER SPEAKER – Adding Unexpected Fun & Laughter to Meetings, Trainings and Events
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