As in day to day conversation, being funny in public speaking is a great skill to possess. It has a number of benefits for the speaker in helping to win over your audience. And in certain circumstances it is expected, e.g. after dinner speeches the audience wants light relief rather than a deep discussion.
However, if you are not comfortable in using humor in your speech, it can still be an interesting and informative for your listeners. It is important to note the reason you were invited to speak – your expertise and to deliver a speech on a subject that will be of interest to the audience. If they had wanted to be entertained they would have invited an entertainer.
For a speech to be successful the following ingredients are required:-
– Know you subject in depth. Become an expert in your subject by drawing on your own experience and researching other sources. Your audience can tell when you have a shallow understanding of your subject. A deep understanding of your subject builds confidence.
– Know your listener’s wants, expectations and their background. This knowledge is vital when preparing your speech – different audiences will require different approaches to the delivery of your speech e.g. a professional organisation will probably require a different presentation to one given to a sales convention
– Be thoroughly prepared. Prepare a detailed outline of your speech. Then practice until you are confident about delivering your speech. If possible practice your delivery in front of your family and friends. Ask for feedback and incorporate any improvements into your speech. Thorough preparation is key to the confident and successful delivery of your speech.
– Your language and delivery should be conversational in style. This is more likely to happen when you talk from an outline rather than reading your speech, or where you have memorized the speech. A memorized speech or one read maybe stilted and be in the language of print rather than that used in everyday conversation. Your audience will relate more to day to day language than fancy language. It is the language they use every day. But in your first appearances it can be easier to read or memorize your speech and alter the language to that of spoken rather than written language.
– Be interested and enthusiastic about the topic you are speaking about. The interest and enthusiasm you demonstrate will win your audience over.
In conclusion you do not have to be funny to be successful in public speaking. Public speaking is about the effective communication of ideas to your listener. Humor can make that easier but it is not essential. A well delivered speech that is interesting and informative can be as effective as one delivered with humor.
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