How To Make Humor Work For You In Your Next Speech

Humor in a speech is something that you can control
Humor in a speech is something that you can control
Image Credit: James Raynard

The good news is that you’ve been asked to give a speech (trust me on this one, it is good news). The bad news is that the topic that you’ll be talking about is dreadfully boring. Or your audience is an audience that has the world’s shortest attention span no matter what you’ll be talking about. No matter which situation you find yourself in, despite the importance of public speaking you’ve clearly got a challenge on your hands. You are going to need to find a way to capture your audience’s attention and then hold on to it during your entire speech. It turns out that what your speech is going to need is a bit of humor…

The Power Of Adding Humor To An Otherwise Boring Speech

Let’s face it – humor is hard work. You need to first find something that you find to be funny, then there is all of that extra work that is required to make sure that you are not going to end up offending this audience. Is all of this effort worth it?

It turns out that the answer is yes. What you need to realize is that your audience is a part of the television channel surfing generation no matter how old (or young) they are. What this means for you is that if you don’t grab their attention right off the bat, they are going to spend the rest of your speech trying to get a new high score on their iPhone’s version of that Candy Crush game.

As a speaker, you need to realize that humor is how you start to build a relationship with your audience. Using humor in your next speech will keep your audience on their toes as they wait for the next funny thing that you are going to say. The power of humor is that while it motivates and inspires our audience, at the same time it is getting them ready to receive the important information that we’ll be sharing with them. Humor helps to maximize our audience’s memory retention.

Tips For Adding Humor To Your Next Speech

If I’ve been able to convince you that adding humor to your next speech is worth the effort that it will require, now we can move on to the bigger question which is just exactly how should you go about doing this? The first thing that you’ll have to realize is that humor won’t happen without preparation. This means that you need to be keeping your eyes open for things that grab your attention and make you laugh. You are going to have to consider how you can use these items in your speech. You’ll have to know your audience and you’ll have to tailor the humor that you use for them.

The best humor is personal. Yes, professional comedians can get away with using jokes because that’s what we expect from them. You are not a comedian and so this means that you are going to have to use the humor that comes simply from living – real life. This type of humor is very powerful, but you are going to have to take steps in order to make sure that you stay relevant to the topic that you’ll be speaking about.

Humor is hard because you are asking your audience to laugh with you. In order to make this task just a bit easier, you may want to consider using props in your next speech. What we need to realize is that often our audience will remember what they saw during our presentation long after they’ve forgotten what they heard. As a speaker, what you need to do is keep your eyes open for an object that would be appropriate for your topic.

What All Of This Means For You

Each one of us has found ourselves in the situation where we’ve been asked to give a speech to an audience that for one reason or another really is not all that interested in what we have to say. When this happens, and it will, we need to use a tool that will help us maximize the benefits of public speaking and to both grab and hold our audience’s attention: humor.

The power of adding humor to your next speech comes from the effect that it can have on your audience. Humor can both inspire and motivate your next audience. Adding humor to your speech can open an otherwise closed audience to learning what you have to teach them. To make this happen you need to prepare to use humor in your speech before you give it. The best humor is the humor that you personalize for your audience. Feel free to add props to your speech in order to both get a laugh and to wake your audience up.

The reason that we give speeches is because we feel that we have information that it is important for our audience to learn. When we’re faced with a tough audience we can use humor to get through to them. Next time you are faced with a tough speech, get your audience to laugh with you.

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

Question For You: Do you think that it is possible to add too much humor to 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 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

As speakers we are always being reminded that how we communicate with our audience has more to do with our body language than our words. Wherever did this idea come from? I can’t tell you how many speech training courses I’ve been to where the person running the course stood up there and said that despite the importance of public speaking 93% of our communication with an audience is done non-verbally. Ok, but how did they determine this?