In a speaker’s bag of tricks, humor is one of the most powerful tools that any of us have to maximize the importance of public speaking. However, despite being powerful to use, humor is notoriously difficult to use correctly. It can be all too easy to come up with something that we think is outrageously funny only to be met with blank expressions when we try to use it on an audience. Or we can end up saying the wrong thing to the wrong audience and then nobody will be laughing. What we need here is some suggestions on how to make our next speech funnier.
Keep It Current
Can I tell you about the funniest thing that happened back in 1620? Probably not. How about something that was just outrageous that happened in the 1920s? That’s probably not going to make you laugh either. If the humor that your present to your audience doesn’t ring a bell with them, then they are not going to be laughing.
What we need to remember is that the best humor is current humor. Humor based on things that are going on in our lives today. No, you don’t need to read the paper every morning in order to come up with the most topical humor. However, your humor should be up-to-date. Make sure that the humor that you use in your speech is appropriate to our current day and age.
Concise Is Always Funnier Than Long-Winded
It is my belief that there is no humor worse than the kind of humor where after a very long and winded build up, the punch line is weak and flabby. What we need to keep in mind is that there are two parts to every joke that we’ll be telling to our audiences: the set up and the punch line.
Where we tend to get off track is when it comes to the set up. We decide that there is just more and more information that we can include in our joke and before we know it, it’s too long. We also need to realize that shorter is not always better when it comes to humor. What we really need to do is to be concise. This means that we take the time to give our audience all of the information that they are going to need in order to appreciate our punch line.
You Need To Create Great Images
There’s an interesting question about just what exactly makes an audience laugh. As speakers, we only have words with which to work. However, I believe that what makes our audiences laugh are the images that they can “see in their heads”.
What this means for us as speakers is that we need to do a good job of providing our audiences with the words that will help them to build the most vivid images possible. The more vivid of an image that our audience has to work with, the better the humorous response we’ll get out of them.
What All Of This Means For You
The goal of any speech that we give is to use the benefits of public speaking to be remembered. There are many different ways to do this; however, one of the most powerful is to add humor to our speech. The more times that we can make our audience laugh, the more times that we’ll be able to get them to remember what we told them. Exactly how to make this happen has always been the big question.
We always need to make sure that our humor is current. We need to talk about things that are going on in our audience’s lives today in order to discover things that will make them laugh. As we set our audience up for our next joke, it’s all too easy to talk too much. What we need to do is to be concise and provide them with all of the information that they need to fully
appreciate our punch line. Finally, we need to remember that what will make our audience laugh will be the mental image that they’ve been able to create from our words. This means we need to provide them with as much detail as possible.
The good news about adding humor to a speech is that it really is not all that hard to do. However, when we do decide to add it, we need to go about doing so very carefully. Follow the suggestions that we’ve discussed here and you’ll discover that your audience is laughing more and remembering your speech better.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™
Question For You: How many times do you want your audience to laugh during an average length 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
I’m pretty sure that we’ve all heard the old phrase “laughter is the best medicine”. What this means for us as speakers is that because of the importance of public speaking during our next speech we’d like to be able to get our audience to laugh with us one or more times. Although this may not sound like it is all that hard of a thing to make happen, it turns out that it can be quite difficult to do correctly. What we all need is some guidance in how to get our next audience to laugh with us, not at us.