Learning how to effectively intertwine humor in your speech is essential to establishing yourself as a notable speaker. We all want to entertain our audience effortlessly but you need to use sound judgement when using humor; sometimes it is appropriate and sometimes it is not.
Using humor can be effective in almost any speech, it can be a good way to break up tension or lighten up the mood. It can also be used to break the ice; speakers that employ humor connect quicker with their audience and are deemed more likable by their listeners.
“Humor is treacherous. It can charm, coax, and persuade, but it can also distract, baffle or alienate the audience.” – Eugene Finerman
Also, you can use humor to add variety to your speech to keep your audience interested. Weave in jokes or a funny, small story or anecdote to your topic to keep the flow of information balanced.
However, you should always make sure that your joke fits in with your topic. No matter how funny that joke was that you heard the night before, refrain from using it if it does not apply to your topic.
How to Use Humor
- Plan your humor according to your audience– The professional level and overall age of your listeners will play a huge part in what will be appropriate and conversely what might be offensive. What listeners will find funny will vary with different groups, so do your research beforehand.
- Laugh at yourself– Although no wants to see you put yourself down constantly in your speech, the audience does like to see some vulnerability in the form of humor. You can add this by telling a funny story about something that actually happened to you and this will increase your credibility with your audience by making you seem more real.
- Keep working at it– Using humor in a speech can be difficult, proper use takes time to develop. Try to use steady and gradual improvement to avoid a “flop” and major
How Not to Use Humor
- Do not try too hard- We have all witnessed someone that uses humor or tries to tell a joke that clearly was recycled from someone else and it is awkward. If you try to use humor that is not your style, it just doesn’t work and is not funny.
- Do Not Make the audience the “butt” of your jokes – Nobody wants to be the target of anyone’s jokes, it is offensive to most people.
- Be on the safe side – Do not make jokes about race, sex, religion or politics. For most people, these are sensitive subjects and should be left out of your jokes.
The Video Use Humor in Speechs by Toastmasters International shows you some do’s and do not’s of using humor in your speech.
Implementing humor in your speech is not easy and can be very intimidating. However, if used correctly you can create rapport with your listeners or if used incorrectly you can create a wedge.
My challenge to you is to break out of your comfort zone and use these tips in your next speech to engage your audience and make them laugh!