A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Podium
The audience that laughs with you will stay with you. Learn how to effectively add humor to your speech.
It is in our nature to pay attention to people and subjects that entertain us. If you can successfully infuse your speech with humor,
you will win your audience over very quickly. Love of laughter is a common thread that runs through all of humanity; all over the world
people have an inherent tendency to like those who make them laugh. And if your audience likes you, they will trust you and will want to
learn from you.
There are, of course, several key things to keep in mind when putting humor into your speech. First of all, stay relevant to your central
idea. Don't tell a joke or a funny anecdote simply for the sake of humor. Getting a laugh is great, but you need to be able to tie it back
into your primary message for it to have an impact. Otherwise your segue will seemed forced.
Making the decision to put humor into your speech can be daunting. Public speaking is nerve wracking enough for most people without
adding the potential for embarrassment. There is nothing worse than attempting to tell a joke or funny story and having it fall horribly
flat. If you were expecting laughter and all you get is stunned silence, the rest of your speech will not work. To avoid this, try testing
the story out on friends beforehand to see if they laugh and if they "get" the joke. Practice telling the story out loud a few times so that
you can get your comedic timing down and will be able to deliver the story in a natural, conversational tone. You may want to videotape or
audio record yourself telling the story so that you can hear your vocal inflections for yourself.
The intention to entertain can also go horribly awry if your story is thought to be inappropriate or offensive. Knowing your audience is
essential - know what may or may not offend them. Stick to stories that are safe; for example cute stories about children or animals will
usually go over well. People will relate them to their own children or pets and there is very little room to offend in these subject areas.
If you choose to tell a story about a business experience you've had, be diplomatic in describing colleagues or clients. Don't use people's
If you want to use an anecdote but don't have one from your own life to share, search the Internet for examples. You can find celebrities'
commencement speeches, CEOs' addresses to their employees, and web sites devoted to anecdotes and humorous stories. Just be sure that if
you borrow a story from another source, you credit it properly. Never claim something happened to you when it didn't. The point of telling a
funny story is to help you credibility, not hurt it. People will trust you if you give them a reason to enjoy themselves, but if they
immediately recognize the story you're telling and know it didn't happen to you personally, you will be undermining yourself right out of
Audiences love to be entertained - we all do! Knowing exactly how and when to use humor in your speeches will put you in high demand. In
very little time you will establish yourself as a speaker who can reach, educate and persuade audiences. There is no more powerful talent
to have in today's marketplace.