Easily Adding Humor To Different Types Of Speeches

add humor to any speechOne of the things that I know that people assume is that there are probably different means or methods for adding humor to speeches depending on the type of speech being delivered.

Regardless of what you may have read online, there is NO DIFFERENCE when it comes to adding humor to a speech no matter what type is being delivered, whether it be:

  • A wedding speech for a dear friend who is opting for a potential future of losing half of all they accumulate going forward or…
  • A motivational speech about overcoming a fear of public speaking when wearing a Speedo while being 50 pounds overweight or…
  • An informative speech about the hidden dangers of using Ghost Pepper suppositories

In other words…

Any speech, presentation, or lecture can benefit from injecting humor, and the methods and approaches are always the same.

Whether you believe it or not, the techniques and approaches I’m referring about are EXACTLY THE SAME AS THOSE USED IN DAILY CONVERSATIONS WITH PEOPLE ONE KNOWS AND WORKS WITH.

The subject matter on which a speech or presentation is focused does not alter.

So in this article, want to provide a broad overview of the methods that can be used to “punch up” a speech and make it funny.

Integrating Punchlines

The *easiest way to add humor to any speech, presentation or lecture is to simply inject punchlines whenever possible at any point during the talk being given.

*Important: When I say that this is the “easiest way”, that is contingent upon this – the person giving the speech or presentation actually knows what a punchline is relative to their own individual sense of humor and how they use and express their sense of humor. In other words…

Simply knowing that “a punchline is the funny part of a joke” won’t cut it – this sort of so-called “essential knowledge” deemed as such by the majority of comedy experts is 100% non-actionable and doesn’t give a person so much as a clue about to generate any punchlines for any type of content.

Let’s connect this to what you already do to get laughs when you are engaged in casual conversations with friends, family, coworkers and colleagues.

As you are standing around talking, somebody brings up a topic – a current event, a news story, something they saw on TV, an experience about [fill in the blank here] or anything we end up talking about.

Then at some point someone makes a remark or comment about what is being discussed and it causes laughter to happen. That remark or comment is called a punchline.

Note: Punchlines are EXACTLY the same in stand-up comedy, a speech, a lecture or a casual conversation. Contrary to popular belief, there is NO difference in what a punchline is or how it works no matter what situation it is used in.

So a pretty good question to ask at this juncture would be:

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What is it that makes punchlines “pop out” during a casual conversation among those you talk to?

Why, it was the fact that whatever was being talked about “triggered” or activated your (or somebody else’s) sense of humor and you (or someone else) were able to deliver a punchline or multiple punchlines relative to the topic or content being discussed. 

This is what makes producing and delivering punchlines in a casual conversation “easy”.

You might want to pay close attention to what I have just shared with you because it represents the foundation for easily injecting punchlines into speeches and presentations.

Now please be aware of this:

There is much to know about punchlines – what they are (relative to the person delivering them), how they are structured to generate laughs and more.

There is also much to know about structuring a speech or presentation for the type of content to present and how that affects punchline frequency along with delivery aspects that affect laughter generation.

However, none of that information is difficult to understand or apply. And it should be fairly obvious at this point that if one were armed with that information, it would be pretty darn easy to inject punchlines into any speech or presentation, don’t you agree?

Now in case you didn’t catch it, there is a vital condition that needs to be met in order for punchlines to be effectively delivered during any type of speech content…

The Speech Content Trigger

When you are standing around talking with the people you know about just about anything under the sun, one thing is certain beyond a shadow of a doubt which this observable fact:

The ease of generating and delivering punchlines relative to the topic or content being discussed is directly related to the ease and extent which it triggers someone’s sense of humor.

This doesn’t just apply to shooting the breeze with friends or family. This applies to every situation when talking is involved and laughter is generated as a result of that talking.

There are exactly two categories that your speech or presentation material will fall into in this regard:

  • Content that triggers or activates your sense of humor or…
  • Content that does not trigger or activate your sense of humor.

And if your speech or presentation does not contain content that triggers or otherwise activates your sense of humor, well you have exactly two options to remedy that situation:

  • Incorporate content that DOES trigger or activate your sense of humor or…
  • Incorporate open source comedy material that may or may not be related to your speech or presentation topic.

These are just some of the areas of instruction that I will be including in my course for funny public speaking. But for now, just be aware of this:

Think back on the last several times that you were involved in a spirited conversation with people you know and laughter happened.

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You will note that everything being discussed didn’t necessarily all lend itself to the injection of punchlines by all involved in the discussion.

Some content triggered the sense of humor of some while not really affecting others.

And there were also instances when the punchlines delivered that caused everyone to laugh and other times only select people laughed when the punchlines were delivered.

There is absolutely NOTHING mysterious or magical about what I have just described. We have all observed it happen over and over countless times.

The most important thing to recognize at this juncture is this:

No matter what the topic of discussion may be – either among friends, family, coworkers or colleagues or when delivering a speech, lecture or presentation – for punchlines to be generated easily and to be effective in generating laughter, the content of the discussion must first trigger the sense of humor of the person delivering it.

Wrap Up

One thing that I know for sure is this when it comes to adding humor to any speech or presentation:

You won’t have any success doing that unless you are delivering content that activates your sense of humor.

There is a hilarious (to me) marketing concept that you will run across that goes like this:

How To Be Funny Even If You Aren’t

That’s no different than this absurd statement:

How To Breathe Water Even If You Can’t

My point is this – you simply cannot “learn” to make something funny that isn’t funny to you to begin with. In stand-up comedy, this is referred to as trying to “force the funny”.

You also can’t learn to “write” in a way that is designed specifically for consumption by an individual reader using only words and somehow expect those words alone to be hilarious when spoken to an audience of strangers.

So, regardless of the “type” of speech being delivered:

  • Persuasive speech
  • Motivational speech
  • Entertaining speech
  • Wedding speech
  • Informational speech
  • And on and on

The process for easily adding humor (punchlines) to your speech or presentation is always going to be the same – the type of speech does not matter.

The most important question that you can ask about your speech content is this:

Does anything that I have to say to my audience activate my sense of humor?

Because If not…

Then your best bet is to nail down some associated speech content that does easily trigger your sense of humor.

That’s the best public speaking tip I can offer at this juncture.

Steve Roye is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of spoken word comedy development and delivery for stand-up comedians and public speaking professionals alike. For details about Steve's diverse background and extensive experience, click here.

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