Sunday, December 27, 2020

Humorously Speaking

I’m fulfilling a commitment I made at our maiden World Speakers’ Coalition meeting on September 23, 2020, where I had said I would make notes on the topics and techniques we'll be covering in our meetings.

And so, herewith my jottings on the subject of Humorously Speaking, which was our focus at last Wednesday’s meeting. 

Public speaking wickedly provokes panic, if not fear in many speakers. But knowing that you have a humorous speech to deliver can go a long way toward alleviating speaking anxiety.

Sure, humor is a tricky thing. One person’s humor is another person’s “what were you thinking of?” 

But, if you can embed some humor into your speech that gets the audience laughing; something appropriate to your topic, and that doesn’t offend anyone – you can help the audience better remember that speech. After all, isn’t that the purpose of any speech?

Besides, we all know that humor in speeches put the audience at ease, make key points memorable, accord a better impression, create a connection and keep your listeners engaged. 

Start by intentionally wanting to be humorous! 

You can begin a speech with an anecdote that is spiced with whimsy wit; pepper the body of your speech with amusing stories; even throw in one-liners, incorporate jokes, and use exaggeration in words and/or in gestures to be funny; and for good measure, deliver a humorous spiel at the end of the speech. 

Keep in mind that self-deprecation has its place – so don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself. Indeed, your own foibles are some of the strongest and most relatable building blocks in humor. People might be wary of revealing their own examples of foolishness outright, but it’s extremely cathartic for them to laugh at a speaker’s similar experience. 

Certainly, consider every angle of your speech as a potential comedic opportunity. The important rule is to insert humor in your speech wherever the speech lends itself to it. 

Some additional tips:

Don’t preview your humor by saying, “Let me tell you a funny story”. Let the audience decide for themselves. Look pleasant and smile as you launch into your funny line, but if no one laughs or even smiles, then just move on as though you meant for it to be serious. This approach takes the pressure off as you relate the humor. 

Remember that you are not a stand-up comedian; you are a serious speaker seeking to help the audience remember and pay attention by using humor as a tool. 

Make sure the humor relates to the point you are making. Do not use humor where the only purpose is to make the audience laugh; it should tie in with some aspect of your speech. Otherwise, the audience may like the humor but wonder what point you are attempting to make and get sidetracked from the real core of your presentation.

And above all, make sure your chosen humor is funny to you. If you don’t laugh or smile at the joke, pun, one-liner, story, or another form of humor – don’t expect an audience to do so. 

Remember: Anyone can use humor!


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