Even if you are not a humorist, or maybe especially if you are not a humorist, if you can add a little humor to your speeches you will reap some major rewards. Humor can loosen up the audience, get them to like you, engage them, and actually improve the audiences learning and retention. Many people don’t think they are funny, but by using the following seven tips you can add humor to any presentation.
1) Use humor you find funny –
This one seems obvious, but in your quest to add humor you may try to think of lines that your audience will laugh at. While it is important to consider the audience, you must first start with things you think are funny. If you try to tell a joke or tell a story that you don’t think is all that great but you think the audience will like, chances are it will bomb. Find the intersection between what you find funny and what your audience will find funny.
2) Use humor you would use anyway –
This point builds off of point #1. If you are thinking about telling a story (funny or not, quite frankly), think about whether you would ever tell that story in that way to your friends or family when you are just hanging out. If the answer is yes, and you think your audience will like it, then go with it. If not, let it go, no matter how much you think the audience may enjoy it.
3) Watch funny movies and TV –
It’s very hard to *be* funny if you don’t feel funny. Exercise your funny bone by watching TV shows and movies that make you laugh. Not only will you be in a more playful and fun state, but you will learn a tremendous amount about comedy structure and timing, even if accidentally.
4) Ask “humor questions” –
The one thing that separates comedians from the rest of the “normal world” is that comedians process the world by constantly asking themselves, “what’s funny about this?” It may be so ingrained that they don’t realize it, but that’s what they do. Good, bad, happy, sad, whatever; their first response to everything is “what’s funny about this?” Start asking that question a lot. Not only will you start finding more humor you can use, but you will also be training yourself to be a more naturally funny person (and yes, that is possible!)
5) Pause –
You can have the best material in the world, but with bad timing it still won’t get a laugh. Comedic timing is an art that can take years to master. To start, just remember to pause at the moments when you expect the audience to laugh. It doesn’t need to be too long a pause, but give enough time for the audience to catch up and laugh. What if the audience doesn’t laugh? Well, that leads us to…
6) Don’t care if you get a laugh –
Perhaps the hardest tip of all. Watching a speaker or comedian not get laughs is uncomfortable. Watching a speaker or comedian be flustered or bothered by not getting laughs is deadly. You are not a comedian, so if you don’t get a laugh, that’s ok. Just keep going as if everything is a-ok. Chances are, if you don’t get flustered the audience won’t even notice. The best way to do this is to tell your jokes in the context of stories. That way if you don’t get a laugh you just keep telling your story.
7) Commit 100% –
Humor takes commitment. If you are uncertain about a joke and don’t tell it with full belief that the audience will laugh, the joke will fall flat. (this is why points 1 & 2 are so important). Some speakers have the self-delusion, “if I act like I don’t think this is a great joke and people don’t laugh, then I won’t look as bad.” That never works. Tell your stories and jokes with 100% confidence, and you are much more likely to succeed.
Use these seven tips and watch as your speeches and presentations quickly get bigger and bigger laughs!
For more tips on how to develop better presentation skills and to be a great speaker, get your free copy of the MP3, “Improv for Speakers” and the special report, “The 6 Steps to Using Improv Comedy to be a Great Speaker.” Sign up now at: http://www.improvforspeakers.com/freeaudio
Also, check out the one hour audio, “The Fundamentals of Being Funny as a Speaker” here: http://www.avishparashar.com/humorcd.html
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