Incorporating Humor in Your Next Speech

Getting people to care about what you have to say is hard. Effective speakers know that actively involving the audience from beginning to end is key to giving a great presentation.

Humor is a powerful tool that can put your audience at ease, establish a connection and help them remember your key points.

Because of my background in comedy, I start almost every talk with a joke or some humor about something going on around me. This works for me but only go there if it is a natural fit and you have some comedic skills.

If this is not a skill that you possess, don’t go there! – You will thank me later!

I often say if no one ever told you are funny; chances are you’re not. (Smiley Face)

Perhaps a better idea would be to start with a powerful and relevant question, like…

  • Did you know the first item sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer?
  • Did you know Japan is suffering from a ninja shortage?
  • Did you know Shakespeare invented more than 1,700 words?

I’ve seen how this can be extremely effective.

But now back to our regularly scheduled program…connecting with humor!

Humor gives people a reason to engage.

A laugh a chuckle a groan, all good to hear at the start…You know they are listening.

You typically have 30-90 seconds to grab their attention. People are much more likely to be interested and supportive if you made them feel that they are a part of something.  Involving and interacting with your audience may be one of the most important things that you can do as a speaker to make certain that your presentation will be successful.

Involving the listener demonstrates that you care about communicating with them as individuals, and not just some random group of “beings.”  Even if you are dealing with a large crowd, the people in it will feel like you are talking directly to them (a great skill to learn).

Getting your audience to laugh is one of the quickest and most effective ways to establish rapport.  But you must be careful. Experience has taught me that if you are brought in to do a presentation…remember they hired a speaker, not a comedian. (There is a big difference).

Humor may be the strongest, most flexible, most humanizing device to bridge the space between speaker and audience. Plain and simple, humor creates interest and attention and makes a speaker to appear more human.

Be sure that any jokes you use are in good taste. It’s not “Did you get a laugh?”  but “Did you get a laugh without offending the audience?”  When in doubt…. Leave it out!

9 Tips on Adding Humor to Your Presentation

  1. It should be original.  No matter what the source of your jokes, make them your own by adding personal touches, and by using your own language. 
  2. It should match your style and personality.
  3. Look for the humor in your everyday life.  The best stories are real-life experiences.
  4. Humor can be used effectively, even if your subject is very serious. 
  5. Even the heaviest topic needs to be lightened up with a little humor.
  6. Humor can make a controversial or hard message more acceptable to the listener.
  7. Add jokes and humor throughout your speech.  It will keep your audience alert and engaged.
  8. Practice your jokes before using them in front of an audience. 
  9. Practice with real people and get comfortable with telling jokes

Humor is ESSENTIAL to a good presentation.  Remember that you are not a comedian; you are a serious speaker seeking to connect with your audience to help them remember and pay attention by using humor as a tool.

All joking aside if you are serious about becoming a better speaker and giving high impact presentations that get results, attend a coaching or presentation skills seminar.  Contact us for more information.