Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make your next audience laugh. Good luck! We all know that humor is a powerful tool in the hands of a speaker; however, we all also know that on top of all of the other presentation tips that you are trying to get right, it’s quite difficult to use humor correctly.
How about if we talk about two tips that will maximize the importance of public speaking and make it easy for you to have your next audience rolling in the aisles during your next speech?
It’s All About Encounters
When looking for ways to introduce more humor into your next speech, don’t go out and buy a book of 1,001 jokes – that never works. Instead, understand what your audience really wants from you – stories. Those listening skills that your audience has are best used when they are waiting for you to tell them another story.
Not just any stories, what they really want are stories that include them. Your job as a speaker is to maximize the number of encounters that you have with your audience before you step in front of them and start to deliver your speech.
It doesn’t matter if you are speaking to your company’s finance department, a room full of college students, or at a church gathering, adding humorous stories that include your audience will make them laugh and allow you to connect with them on a very real level.
Remember that someone from your audience contacted you and asked you to deliver a speech to this audience. That was your first encounter with them. As you set up and organized the speech more interaction occurred. What you want to keep your ears open for are miscommunications, different words that are used, or even jargon that they use that nobody else knows what it means.
The best kind of these stories are when you make a mistake. When you misunderstand something that they’ve told you. Your audience will be “in” on the joke and they’ll get a big laugh out of it.
Can You Say Idiosyncrasies?
Once again, the best kind of humor that a speaker can use is humor that the audience will relate to. Forget stand-up jokes, instead make it more personal.
One great way to do this is to identify any idiosyncrasies that your audience may have. Are there things that they do instinctively that they may no longer even be aware that they do?
Great examples of areas where you may find an idiosyncrasy that your audience has in common with each other might be in what they eat, their exercise patterns, the kind of music that they listen to, or even the kind of clothes that they wear.
Once you’ve identified an idiosyncrasy, as a speaker you can poke fun at it. Your goal is not to do this in a hurtful way, but rather in a way that reminds the audience that they have the idiosyncrasy – they’ve probably forgotten that they have it. When you point it out to them, they’ll remember that they share this common feature and they’ll laugh at how you, an outsider, sees it.
What All Of This Means For You
One of the benefits of public speaking is that we have a powerful tool called humor that we can use to connect with our audience. However, it can be very difficult to use correctly. In order to be able to connect with your next audience, it would be very helpful if you knew how to make them laugh.
Although there are many different ways to do this, we’ve discussed two tips that work well. The first is to realize that your audience will love stories and so if you can include a humorous story about your interactions with one of them, they’ll love you for it. Additionally, every audience has some set of characteristics that defines it. Take the time to learn what this is and then poke fun at it and they’ll come along with you.
Done correctly, humor can be a powerful way for a speaker to build a bridge from themselves to their audience. Use the two tips that we’ve discussed to create ways to make your next speech even more humorous.
Question For You: What do you think is the best way to “test out” and humor that you are planning on using in a speech?
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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
How was your last speech received by your audience? If you talked with them an hour, a day, or even a week after you gave the speech no matter how good their listening skills were, do you think that they would remember what you had said? If the answer is no, then you’ve got some work to do. I have some good news for you, don’t worry about learning new presentation tips — fixing this problem might be as simple as adding some humor to your speech.