What Does It Take To Be A Really Funny Speaker?

In order to be really funny, a speaker has to take on the mind of an improvisor
In order to be really funny, a speaker has to take on the mind of an improvisor
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As speakers I’m pretty sure that by now we all realize the power of humor in a speech. I know that I’ve had the opportunity to watch speakers who were able to use the importance of public speaking to make their audience laugh and laugh. When they were done, everyone came up to them and congratulated them about their speech. I would like to be able to speak like them. However, in order to do that I need to find out how to work more humor into my speeches. How can I become the funniest person in the room?

Where Humor Comes From

So one of the things that we need to realize as speakers is that humor is something that we really can’t prepare in advance of our speech. When we use canned jokes and recite anecdotes they tend to come across to our audience as being flat and false. What we need to use instead is humor that is spontaneous. What we really need to do is to learn how to become an improviser.

One of the most important things that speakers have to learn to do well is to listen. We need to learn to listen to our audience. We’ll have time before we go on stage to talk with them and find out what they are thinking. What we don’t want to do is to be a loudmouth when we are talking with our audience – we don’t want to occupy the conversation and not allow them to speak. The only way that we’re going to be able to be funny is if we take the time to listen. We have to listen actively to what people are telling us – don’t allow your mind to wander. Listening shows that you care and this is the basis of being funny.

As speakers we realize that its not necessarily what we are saying right now, but rather what we are going to be saying next. That’s why when we are having conversations with our audiences before we start a speech we’d like to get as much out of them as possible. In order to have an engaging conversation with your audience you need to keep the conversation moving on by saying “yes, and…” when the audience member that you are talking to tells you something. When you use this technique, you are able to keep the conversation moving forward and are able to expand on the initial thought.

How To Work More Humor Into Your Next Speech

When you are giving your speech, you now have the ability to work in information that you picked up during your conversations with audience members before your speech started. There are a lot of different ways that you can use the information that you gathered. One way is to use irony – agree by saying the opposite of what you were told during your conversations with audience members. You can also use hyperbole and exaggerate your opinion to an impossible level. This will certainly catch your audience’s attention and make them laugh. Finally, you can always use what is called the callback. This happens when you bring up a conversation that you referenced earlier in your speech that everyone joked about. This is a great technique because it will make everyone remember the last time that they laughed with you.

When you are trying to work more humor into your next speech, it turns out that there are several things that you really should take pains to avoid. These techniques might be just a bit too risky to use during a speech. These techniques might work when you are one-on-one with friends and family members, but not during a speech. Such techniques include using shock. This is when you touch on a topic that is considered to be taboo or one that makes your audience feel uncomfortable. Acting madcap is when you start to act goofy in order to get a laugh out of your audience. This can easily be taken too far. Wordplay is another area that can often fall flat with an audience. Things like homonyms, puns, and double meanings can sound funny in small groups but often don’t work for larger audiences.

So what does a speaker have to do in order to become the funniest person in the room? It’s actually pretty simple, you just have to be nice. When you are nice, you will more easily be seen as being funny. Nice people do a good job of listening well. Nice people are experts at relating well to the people around them. Simply by smiling you’ll be able to think of good jokes and get other people to laugh. Remember, the funniest people are able to make the people around them feel funny also.

What All Of This Means For You

In any speech that we give, humor is a powerful tool. We’ve all seen speakers who are able to use humor to win over their audience using the benefits of public speaking and we’d all like to be more like them. However, working humor into a speech is a difficult thing to do – just exactly where are speakers suppose to get our humor from?

In order to do a good job of adding humor to our speeches, we need to understand that humor is really not something that we can expect to show up with in our speeches. Instead, we need to learn how to spontaneously add it to our speech. In other words, we need to learn how to improvise. In order to do this well, we need to get good at listening to our audience before we start our speech. When we are listening to them, we need to get good at saying “yes, and…” in order to get more out of them. If we can expand on an initial thought, then we can get more out of the conversation. We need to understand that as we work these conversations into our speech there are tricks of the trade such as irony, hyperbole, and callbacks that we can use. However, we need to be careful to stay away from using shock, madcap, and things like wordplay. Simply by being nice we can find ways to make our audience laugh.

The more that we can make our audience laugh, the better a speech we’ll be able to give. The challenge that we face is that it’s not always easy to understand just exactly how we can go about getting an audience that we are addressing to laugh. A great way to make this happen is for us to become more of an improviser and gather the information that we need to make our audience laugh before we take the stage. If we can do this successfully, then we will become the speakers who are able to make their audiences laugh and have our speeches remembered long after we are done giving them.

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

Question For You: How much time do you think that you should allocate to talking to audience members before you take the stage?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated. P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!   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

As a speaker, what tools do you have to make your next speech unforgettable? I think that we can all agree that the answer to this question is “not much!” However, just like other professionals who show up to do their work with the tools of their trade, it turns out that we do have a few things that we can bring along. What we can do during our next speech is to express ourselves with words using literary devices. These “tricks of the trade” include understatement, alliteration, symbolism, foreshadowing, and hyperbole. However, where things get really interesting is when we focus on just three of these tools: satire, irony and sarcasm.