Humor for Speakers

Should You Use Humor in Your Speech / Presentation

by John Cantu ©

If you are a professional comedian and/or humorist you can skip this section. These tips are for the person who is unsure or nervous about even starting to use humor. In The First Steps in Adding Humor to Your Presentation you'll find valuable information for the performer / speaker with experience.

There's an oft told aphorism in the National Speakers' Association: "Do you need to use humor in your talks?" "No. Only if you want to get paid."

And to this Cantu says, "Baloney." For many of my humor professional colleagues, this is heresy. But first things first. Humor is simply one of many tools you can use to make a speech / presentation more clear, more interesting, more vivid, more entertaining, more memorable, more whatever. Your speeches will have the greatest impact when they stem from the authentic you.

So, in answer to the question should you use humor in your material, I say, "Are you authentically funny?" Ask yourself: "In everyday life do I sometimes make my friends, my colleagues, and/or my relatives laugh?" If your answer is a resounding and immediate "Yes" wait, your section is coming up.

If your answer is something else, first please understand exactly what the previous sentence means. I am not saying ask yourself, "Do I think I am funny?" or "Am I funny?" Because you can be funny even if you don't perceive yourself to be funny. Reality and one's perception of reality can very often be two very different things. I am not saying ask yourself, "Do I enjoy telling jokes?" or "Can I tell jokes people laugh at?" You can be funny even if you don't enjoy jokes.

I'm simply saying ask yourself: "In day-to-day life, do some people, at some times, laugh at some things I say or do?" If the answer is "Yes," skip the next paragraph.

If your answer is "I don't know" or "No" don't give up hope quite yet. What you need to do is take a personal-funny awareness inventory. You may be funnier than you think. You may be the funniest person in your gang and if you're not aware of it, you might not be using your skill to full advantage. Read on to discover if you actually have an innate funny bone that can be transferred to the stage / platform.

So, the first thing you have to do is simply determine IF people actually LAUGH at some things you do or say. You do this by keeping a laugh journal for three weeks. In your laugh journal you simply note EVERY TIME SOMEONE LAUGHS at something you did or said - regardless of whether you meant it to be funny or regardless if you understood why they laughed. This is merely a simple objective observation of the actions of people around you.

At the end of three weeks total up the number of laughs you have generated - a strictly objective tally.

If you had none, zip, zilch, nada. Okay. Sorry. Stick to other forms of making your speeches / presentations clearer, more interesting, more vivid, more entertaining, more memorable.

Did you have a total of one or more? If you have made people laugh one or more times you ARE somehow/somewhat funny, even if you have no understanding of how you are funny. And anything you do once, you can do twice. And anything you do twice you can probably do three times and anything you an do three times you can....

And then you can start learning how to do it better, quicker, faster, and more professionally.

NEXT: The First Steps in Adding Humor to Your Presentation

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