Using The Power Of Pain To Bring Humor To Your Next Speech

It turns out that your audience's pain is a great source of humor
It turns out that your audience’s pain is a great source of humor
Image Credit: David Rodriguez Martin

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?

It’s All About The Pain

If we want to make our next business presentation better than the average business presentation, then we’re going to have to find a way to bring something new and different to it. The good news is that there is no mystery to how you can go about doing this. Interestingly enough, what you need to do is to find the common pain that the group that you are addressing all share.

Now I know that this may sound just a bit strange – I mean, really, who wants to listen to someone talk about anything that is causing them pain? What you need to remember is that what you want to accomplish as a presenter is to connect with your audience. Identifying what is bugging them and bringing that into your presentation is a great way to make this happen.

It’s probably a good idea to point out that one thing that you don’t want to do is to include anything in your presentation that your audience would consider to be “hostile”. You don’t want to make the mistake of doing anything that your audience would consider to be belittling. You want to connect with them, not push them away.

How To Turn Pain Into Humor

If you thought working shared pain into your business presentation was a strange thing to do, this next step just may come across as being even weirder. Now I’m going to want you to use that pain to get your audience to laugh. If you can get your audience to laugh with you, then you will have truly found a way to connect with them.

In a business presentation, it is perfectially valid to use what is called empathic humor. This is a type of humor has a positive intent and is therefore considered to be appropriate for use in business presentations. Your goal is going to be to find humor that your audience will be able to identify with.

Once you’ve identified a common shared source of pain for your audience, you have a great topic that you can use for humor. Since this is something that everyone is currently experiencing, you’ll be able to connect with them. If you can tap into this situation and create humorous material then you will have found a way to draw your audience into your next presentation.

What All Of This Means For You

Business presentations have a bad rap. There are a lot of these presentations happening all the time and none of us seem to be looking forward to them. One of the key reasons for this is because people generally don’t spend that much time getting ready for them.

The next time you get asked to make a business presentation, you need to be willing to work some humor into it in order to make it a better presentation. A great way to go about doing this is to identify a common source of pain for your audience. Once you know what this is, you can create a humorous situation based on that common pain point and tap into the benefits of public speaking.

Business presentations are a part of life. They are not going away anytime soon. What this means for us as speakers is that the next time that we get asked to deliver a business presentation, we need to take the time to do a good job. Using common pain is a great way to identify something that everyone has in common. Do this well and you will have found a great way to connect with your audience!

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

Question For You: What should you do if your audience has multiple shared pain points?

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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

Sigh. It’s time for you to give yet another business presentation. I’m not excited to hear you give it and I’d be willing to bet that despite the importance of public speaking you are not excited to give it. Hmm, this sorta looks like we are headed for a disaster. There has got to be a way to fix this problem. It turns out that there is and it’s actually pretty simple to do: add some surprise to your next business presentation.