. 1 min read

Many people think stand-up comedy is the most brutal and unforgiving form of public speaking.

I disagree. The hardest gig is lecturing first year mathematics at 9am on Mondays.

I’ve had tough gigs with rowdy audiences. That’s nothing compared to a lecture of first-year engineers. They’re hungover, they’re chatty, and well… it’s maths! The most boring, unsexiest subject of them all.

I have the best maths lecturer. He has amazingly clear explanations, and he delivers every lecture in a remarkably entertaining and memorable way. Many students actually attend the lecture - an achievement for any first-year maths course.

I asked him for his secret.

“I’ve delivered this lecture 100 times before.”


“I’ve been doing this for 35 years.”

His secret was iteration. He never gives the same lecture twice, because he keeps updating the content and delivery based on student feedback. If a student asks an interesting question, he adds it to the notes for next time.

Every good comedian will tell you the same thing. The fastest way to improve is to do more gigs, and make little adjustments every time.

People are not born as comedians or superstar maths lecturers. Public speaking is a skill earned through iteration.

When is your next gig?

Photo by Marvin Ronsdorf on Unsplash.