Sadly, it is possible to kill any chance of making your audience laugh

Sadly, it is possible to kill any chance of making your audience laugh
Image Credit: Arlen Hall

If you are like most speakers, you are always looking for ways to add some humor to your next speech. That is always a great idea; however, did you know that some of the things that you may be planning on doing could actually be making it much harder for your audience to laugh during your speech? It turns out that this is possible; perhaps we should uncover what you should not be doing…

3 Ways To Be Unfunny

Generally when we are talking about what you need to do to create a great speech, we spend our time talking about how you can go about adding humor to your next speech because of the importance of public speaking. However, this time around we should take a look at the other side of the coin. What you need to be careful to not do if you don’t want to make the mistake of making your speech unfunny.

The first thing that you need to realize is that a speech is not a standup comedy act. What this means is that your audience is not expecting you to stand up there and tell them jokes like a comedian does. Just about the worst thing that you can do is to go on the Internet, find some jokes, and then work them into your speech. There’s a good chance that your audience has already heard them and you probably won’t do all that good of a job of delivering them.

Next, when we go looking for humorous material we often start with the one thing that we know the best – ourselves. What this means is that we can end up treating our audience to a lot of stories about the one thing that they really don’t want to hear about – us. Finally, we often make the mistake of focusing too much on trying to be funny and we forget about why we are giving a speech. The end result of this is that our speech ends up not having a message. When we’re done, our audience has not been entertained and they’re not really sure what our speech was all about.

How To Add Humor To Your Next Speech

Ok, so if we can all agree that there are a number of different traps that the unwary speaker can fall into, what should we do? The good thing is that the ability to deliver speech that contains humor is not something that we have to be born with. There are a number of fairly simple things that we can do that will allow us to interject humor into just about any speech that we’ve been asked to give.

The first thing that you want to remember is that you’ll want to keep your humor clean. This means no curse words or off-color topics. Both of these paths are easy ways to shock your audience and you’ll get a reaction, but it’s not true humor and you won’t end up getting the reaction that you really want. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to work some observational humor into your speech.

Just what is observational humor? It’s humor that is based on the here and now. It’s humor that comes from the situation that both you and the audience find yourselves in right now. When you share this kind of humor with your audience they feel like they are “in” on the humor. A very simple example of this kind of humor can happen when you are giving a speech in a cold room. You can start your speech off by telling the audience that you are so cold that if you stop half-way through the speech, they should take you outside to warm up and then you’ll finish your speech. This is simple humor, but your audience will appreciate it.

What All Of This Means For You

Every speaker wants to add more humor to their next speech in order to do a better job of connecting with their audience. However, exactly how to go about doing this is never clear. In fact, avoiding doing things that remove humor from our speech is also critical.

Things that we don’t want to do are to use jokes that we’ve found on the Internet – they generally don’t fit and the audience may have heard them before. Next, we don’t want to end up telling a lot of stories about ourselves – our audience just doesn’t care. Finally, our speech needs to have a clear message or else our audience will feel that we’ve wasted their time. The key to making your audience laugh is to incorporate spontaneous observational humor.

The good news about making your next speech contain more humor is that it’s actually easy to do. In order to capture the benefits of public speaking you need to have a clear plan for how you are going to go about doing this. Don’t make any of the mistakes that we’ve discussed – they’ll take away from your speech. Instead, work in the humor that your audience is going to be able to laugh along with.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many times do you think an audience should laugh during a 30 minute speech?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

With a little luck, we can all agree that adding some humor to your next speech will only make that speech that much better. However, one of the big unanswered questions is given the importance of public speaking just exactly where you should add your humor: at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end? There may not be one single answer to that question; however, adding humor at the start of your speech is always a good idea. Now, the big question is exactly how to go about doing this…

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Your speech title has to match your speech

Your speech title has to match your speech

Image Credit: Michael Johnson

If you are like most of us, the next time that you are asked to give a speech, because of the importance of public speaking you’ll probably spend a considerable amount of time working on the speech. You’ll consider your audience, pick your words, and attempt to craft a speech that will capture their attention and allow you to get your point across. Oh, and then when you have it all put together you’ll remember at the last moment that you need a title for your speech, you’ll quickly think something up, and the poof you’re done. However, does your speech title match your speech?

Let Your Speech Title Guide Your Speech

One of the classic questions that everyone seems to wrestle with when creating a speech is just exactly when the title for a speech should be determined: before you write the speech or afterwards? It turns out the answer is before.

The reason for this is because by selecting your speech title before you write your speech, you can allow your speech title to guide the speech that you write. One way that you can do this is by allowing your speech title to determine the focus of your speech. Almost every topic that we’re asked to speak on can be approached from a number of different ways. If you determine what approach you want to take, create a speech title that reflects this. Then as you write your speech you’ll be able to double check to make sure that your speech lines up with the title that you selected.

A number of speeches are what are called “position” speeches. These mean that you’ll be talking about a topic that your audience will either support or disagree with. As the speaker, when you create the title for your speech you’ll be forced to choose sides. By doing this you’ll find yourself giving a much better speech than if your audience was unable to determine which side your beliefs fell on.

Match The Title To The Topic

The topic that you’ll be talking about is going to guide you when you are selecting a title for your speech. You’ll need to consider if you are going to want your speech to be informative, humorous, or educational? You’ll want to choose a title that conveys the tone that you’ll want your audience to get from your speech.

The title that you choose for your speech needs to bring your topic alive for your audience. You are going to want to make them want to hear you long before it’s time for you to take the stage. One way to go about making this happen is by making your title an active title. You are going to want the title of your speech to suggest that by coming to hear you talk, your audience is going to be receiving something.

Finally, the one thing that you might want to consider not doing is using clichés in your title. The reason for this is that we’ve all heard them so many times before that we tend to discount them: “The Keys To …”, “Secrets Of …”, etc. Understand that the first title that you think of might not be the best one. Write down the titles as they come to you and when you have a list, sit down and pick out the one that is going to best capture the imagination of your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

Long before your next audience will hear the first words out of your mouth, they’ll hear your speech’s title. The question for you is does your title match the content of your speech?

In order to create a speech title that matches your speech, you need to allow your title to guide the speech that you create – this is one of the benefits of public speaking. This means that your title should determine the focus of your speech and can also set the tone. If you match your title to your speech this will require you to take a position on the topic that you’ll be talking about. Make sure that your title tells the audience what you want to say about your topic.

Considering that many of the people who might come to see you will decide if they want to invest the time based on the title of your speech, clearly this is an important issue. Understand that your speech title can’t be an afterthought. Instead, it needs to be determined before you create your speech so that it can guide the speech writing process. Pick a great speech title and you’ll give a great speech!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you can change you speech title without rewriting your speech?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
 
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you are like most speakers, you are always looking for ways to add some humor to your next speech. That is always a great idea; however, did you know that some of the things that you may be planning on doing could actually be making it much harder for your audience to laugh during your speech? It turns out that this is possible; perhaps we should uncover what you should not be doing…

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