How To Get Your Next Audience To Laugh During Your Speech

There's nothing better than an audience that is laughing
There’s nothing better than an audience that is laughing
Image Credit:
Quinn Dombrowski

As speakers, we’ve all had the chance at some point in time to listen to a speaker whom we though was truly funny. If you are anything like me, you were amazed at how powerful this speech was: as the speaker made his or her points, they used the importance of public speaking to ge t the audience to laugh and everyone agreed with what the speaker was saying. This humor stuff is powerful indeed! Now all you and I have to do is to find out how we can work more of it into our next speech in order to get our audience to laugh…

The Power Of Suspense

When we want to add humor to our next speech, we need to first take the time to take a close look at just exactly what humor is. It turns out that there are three elements that make up humor: surprise, tension, and relationships. How funny we are comes down to how well we make use of these three elements

What a lot of us don’t fully understand is that what makes something funny is often the surprise that comes along with it. What this means for us as speakers is that we don’t want to tell our audience that we’re getting ready to make them laugh, we’d rather surprise them with it. This also means that the payoff of our humorous comment, the punchline, needs to be placed at the end of what we are saying. This allows us to give the surprise of our humor more of an impact. The good news about all of this is that if our joke falls flat, the audience will never know that we were trying to make them laugh and so we won’t have to apologize for it!

The Key Is Tension

If you don’t spend any time thinking about it, you may not realize the critical role that laughter plays in humor. It turns out that your audience’s laughter is actually the pressure release valve that your audience is going to use to release the tension that you have built up inside of them. A lot of the humor that we use come from what are generally considered to be uncomfortable situations where we may be experiencing either pain or fear.

When you allow your audience to laugh, you are providing them with an opportunity to release all of that tension that you have built up inside of them. One great way to go about making your humor even funnier is to insert a pause just before you reach the punch line of what you are going to say. This will allow the tension to reach a peak just before you allow your audience to release it through laughter.

It’s All About The Relationship

The final part of getting your audience to laugh is arguably the most difficult part to both understand and use as a speaker: relationships. When we are talking about humor, relationships don’t pertain to a connection between two people. Instead, in humor a relationship has to do with things like connections, links, or similarities between two different things that might not be obvious to your audience.

As the person who is giving the speech, you need to take the time to study what you are going to be talking about. If you want to get people to laugh, then you are going to need to find the relationships between the things that you are talking about. In order to get your audience to laugh, you are going to have to point out relationships that they didn’t notice or, perhaps even more importantly, where things are disconnected or not related. Take the time to do this and your audience will be laughing in no time.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are giving a speech, having the ability to get our audience to laugh is one of the most powerful things that we can do. If we can get our audience to laugh, then we can use the benefits of public speaking to get them to agree with us and to go along with what we are telling them. We need to understand that humor in a speech consists of three things: surprise, tension, and relationships.

When we want to make our audience laugh, we need to be careful to not tell them that we’re going to be trying to make them laugh. We need to surprise them. Surprise consists of us placing our punch line at the end of what we are going to be telling them in order to allow the greatest build up to our humorous statement. Laughter is how your audience is going to release the tension that your humor has caused them. A great deal of our humor comes from situations that involve either pain or discomfort. When we give our audience permission to laugh, they are able to get rid of all of the tension that we’ve built up inside of them. The key to making your audience laugh is to show them how different things are either related or not related. Take the time to uncover these relationships and you’ll have your audience laughing in no time.

If you are a speaker who has the ability to make your next audience laugh during your speech at the points that you want them to laugh at, then you have a powerful skill. This is a skill that we can all work to develop. Take the time to master the three parts of humor and you’ll have your next audience rolling in the aisles.

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

Question For You: How many times do you think you should try to get an audience to laugh during a 30-minute 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

In all of the time and effort that we put into creating and preparing to present a speech, all too often we don’t spend enough time thinking about the one key feature that may have a very big impact on how our speech goes: the quality of the meeting that we’ll be speaking at. It turns out that there is a lot riding on the person who set the meeting up in the first place. When we are that person, what do we need to do in order to capture the importance of public speaking and make sure that our meeting helps everyone who will be speaking?

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