How To Create Humor That Will Work For Your Next Audience

by drjim on June 14, 2016

As a speaker, your goal should be to get your next audience to laugh as part of your speech

As a speaker, your goal should be to get your next audience to laugh as part of your speech
Image Credit: Chris Waits

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.

Tell Your Audience When They Should Laugh

I don’t know about you, but this seems sorta silly. I mean, look, when I say something funny, my audience should laugh, right? I should not be required to have to tell them when they should be laughing, should I? Sadly enough, it turns out that yes, you really do have a responsibility to your audience to tell them when to laugh.

The best way to view the use of humor in a speech is to view yourself as being in control of the humor. You are in charge of how fast things move – you are the one who is controlling the tempo. Yes, you do want your next audience to laugh at your speech. However, even more importantly you want them to laugh at the right spots in your speech. You can make this happen by using your speaker’s tools: gestures, voice inflection, and facial expressions in addition to the words that you are saying.

Make Appropriate References

Perhaps we should take a step back for just a moment, just what is humor? A lot of the humor that we use to get our audiences to laugh consists of one simple idea: comparing two different ideas. One idea is one that our audience understands and accepts, the other idea is the one that is so outlandish that they have no choice but to laugh. An example of this is if you said that “I have a friend who hates to drive so much that she keeps her eyes shut until she gets to where she’s going”.

When you are creating your speech and you are looking for ways to add humor to it, you are going to want to spend your time looking for as many different types of references as you can. The more references that you’ll be able to discover then the better equipped you’ll be to find ways to add humor to your speech. Do keep in mind that for any humorous reference to work, it needs to be both applicable and appropriate.

Know Your Audience

I’ve got the funniest joke about plumbers. Are you ready? Perhaps not! Yes, it’s true that the quality of your speech and how you go about presenting it are going to play a big role in how funny your audience thinks it is. However, there is one thing that you may be overlooking here: the audience that you’ll be presenting to. In order to get a good response from your audience, you are going to need to make sure that your humor matches them.

As a speaker, your goal is to get the most laughs out of your audience. The better a job that you do in making your humor apply to the people in your audience, then the bigger laughs you’ll get. If you can get this right, then your audience will appreciate it. Speakers always need to keep in mind that no matter how funny we think that our material is, our audience will always be the final judge. If they laugh – you win. If they don’t laugh, then you’ve still got work to do.

What All Of This Means For You

Every speaker wants each speech that he or she delivers to be remembered forever by their audience — that’s the benefits of public speaking. There are a number of different ways to go about making this happen, but one of the easiest is to add some humor to your speech. Although this may sound like it’s easy to do, it turns out that it can be quite difficult to do correctly.

One of the most obvious things that a speaker needs to do is to tell his or her audience when they should be laughing. There are a lot of different ways to go about doing this, gestures, voice inflection, facial expressions, etc. Humor is a result of two comparisons that the audience didn’t see coming. As a speaker you need to take the time to find references that are both appropriate and applicable to the audience that you’ll be presenting to. Finally, if you want your audience to laugh at what you are telling them, then your humor has to be matched to your audience. If they laugh, then you got it right. If they don’t, then your speech needs some more work.

Humor can be very easy to add to a speech if you go about doing it correctly. The power of humor can be amazing. People will come up to you years later and complement you on a speech that you gave that made them laugh. Take the time to study how best to add humor to a speech, do it correctly, and then wait for the laughs to come rolling in.

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

Question For You: Do you think that it would be worth trying some of your humor out on members of your audience in order to make sure that it’s a good match for them?

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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

No matter how happy (or scared) you might be when you are asked to give a speech to an audience, you are looking at a lot of work to get ready from the moment that you say “yes” to the moment when you take the stage. Since you are going to have to go to all of the effort of creating a speech that you think that your audience is going to want to hear, you sure should have a good understand of what it’s going to take to make sure that they hear what you’re telling them…

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