When It Comes To Making Your Speech Funny, Seconds Count…

by drjim on April 7, 2015

What you say at the start of your speech can define your entire speech

What you say at the start of your speech can define your entire speech
Image Credit: Blake Patterson

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…

The Importance Of The Beginning

One of the mistakes that beginning speakers often make is that they try to start their speech out on a very serious note in order to gain the audience’s respect. It turns out that if you really want to win your audience’s respect, then you are going to have to find a way to connect with them. Making this connection at the start of your speech will enable you to get your ideas across to your audience from the start.

What this means is that you need to start to use humor in your next speech from the moment that you are introduced. Don’t you even dare to think about using a canned joke or something funny that you found on the Internet. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to use observational humor. This means that you need to start your speech off by making a remark about something that is going on right now.

Although this may at first appear to be a difficult thing to do, it turns out that most people are able to do it fairly easily once they understand how to do it. The most important thing that you are going to have to do is to keep your eyes open for the roughly one hour that passes before you take the stage to give your speech. As you meet and talk with your audience, what are they talking about – what’s on their minds? What is the room like – is there anything about the room that people like or dislike? Who is going to be introducing you and what about them does your audience most notice? These are all raw material for you to take in and comment on in a humorous way as you start your speech.

All Humor Comes With A Warning

As we all know, humor is a powerful tool. However, it comes with a number of different warning labels attached to it. If you get your humor wrong, then there is a good chance that instead of amusing your audience and connecting with them, you’ll end up angering them and driving a wedge between you and them before you even start your speech. That’s why you have to give any humorous comments that you plan on making careful consideration before you open your mouth.

One of the most important things that you need to keep in mind is the simple fact that you are not one of them. You have been invited to give a speech to a group of people who all share some common trait that you don’t have – that’s why they wanted to you speak to them. What you want to make sure that you don’t do is to fail to be respectful of your audience. Yes, they may be different from you; however, they are not going to find their differences funny even if you do.

Finally, you need to be very careful about where in the world you are speaking. Things that may be funny to your audience at home may not be funny where you are speaking. A classic example of this is when speeches are given by western speakers in Asia. Self-depreciating humor that works well at home will fall flat in Asia where it is not the custom to make fun of yourself in public.

What All Of This Means For You

Adding humor to a speech is always a good idea. The more that your audience laughs, the better your chances of truly connecting with them are and this is one of the real benefits of public speaking. However, finding the right place in your speech to add the humor can be a challenge. The good news is that you can’t go wrong by adding some humor at the start of your speech.

What you need to realize about humor is that you have to use it at the start of your speech. Making the audience laugh and applaud at the beginning is actually easier than many of us think that it is. However, at the same time we need to be careful to not offend our audience. We need to take into account where we are at and who we are talking to.

As a speaker we don’t have a lot of tools that we can use in order to connect with our audience. Humor is something that we can all use. What we need to learn how to do is to use humor in a way that will help, not hinder our next speech. Start your next speech off funny and then see where things go…!

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

Question For You: What do you think that your next step should be if your audience does not laugh at your first funney comment?

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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

Just how many of us actually look forward to business presentations? I’d be willing to bet just about none of us. The reason that this type of presentation is so almost universally avoided despite the importance of public speaking is because they are just flat out boring. Nobody ever spends much time preparing for these meetings and it generally shows! What if you are the one who has been asked to put on a business presentation? What could you do to possibly make a presentation that nobody is looking forward to better than they would expect?

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