Most anyone who takes the steps to add humor to a speech wants to know if it will actually work to generate laughs when delivered to an audience.
The short answer is this:
There is no way to predict with 100% accuracy that any attempt at delivering humorous material incorporated into a speech or presentation will generate the desired audience laughter.
So you might want to pay close attention to what I have to offer in this article if you want to have confidence generating laughter when you add humor content to a speech.
Let’s start with an important question:
When your sense of humor is activated in everyday conversations and you express it with people you know, work with and associate with, do you have a high level of confidence or a high level of uncertainty when you use it?
I’m going to say that the vast majority have a high level of confidence when they use and express their sense of humor with others the converse with daily.
And the reason is pretty darn simple…
They have already spent DECADES acquiring, developing and sharpening the sense of humor that they have.
They have also spent those same DECADES practicing and polishing the way they express their sense of humor in the most effective means possible.
This is the reason why there is usually minimal, if any forethought involved before we deploy our sense of humor – what we have to say and express “just comes out” and the people we are talking with laugh as a result.
Now here’s the next important question:
When you use and express your sense of humor in everyday conversations, does it work 100% of the time to generate laughs from the people that you are talking with?
You already know the answer – no, it does not.
But here’s the deal…
Our sense of humor tends to work most of the time when we choose to use it.
That’s what provides the confidence to use it at will the way we do.
I want to make one more important point before I get to the part about knowing if the humor you have added to a speech is going to work to generate laughs or not, and that is this:
Tip: Unlike conversations with friends, family, coworkers and associates – an audience of strangers won’t usually know if you have attempted humor that didn’t get laughs unless you tell them or otherwise telegraph that information overtly.
The reason is simple. The universal expectations are for any speech or presentation to NOT be funny, humorous or otherwise entertaining.
The ubiquitous history of attending mind numbingly boring, lifeless, and dull talks delivered by somebody who would be more interesting to watch solving a crossword puzzle than speaking publicly has helped to cement these typical expectations when it comes to the entertainment value (or lack thereof) of lectures, speeches or presentations.
Now, let’s talk about how you can have confidence (or at the very least much more confidence) in the humor that you want to add to speeches.
The Process You Use Matters
I wrote a review of an article that I found online written by a Toastmasters group about adding humor to any speech (the link is provided below).
Let me say that if you choose to use the methodology espoused by the author of that Toastmasters group article to add humor to speeches, you will essentially greatly reduce or eliminate your ability to have ANY confidence in the original humor content that you add to a speech.
The reason that I can say with great confidence is because the “process” promoted by that author for creating original humor material involves GUESSING at every juncture of the process:
- Guessing what the topics are
- Guessing what the premise of the topics might be and…
- Guessing what the “unexpected” twists that get the laughs might be
Sorry, but “guessing” is simply NOT a viable tactic that I would want to depend on in any capacity when it comes to adding humor to any speech.
But on a more fundamental level, the process that is provided by that author essentially bypasses the way a person’s natural sense of humor easily works in exchange for a recognize the parts, then “plug Part A into slot B” methodology – again employing “guessing” as the core technique in the process.
Here’s the link to the article that I have been referring to:
Now it seems to me that a FAR better approach for incorporating humor into speeches would be one that easily allows the speaker to naturally use and express their sense of humor the way they normally do in everyday life.
I am talking specifically about the process that they already know usually works to generate laughs when they are talking with people they know and associate with.
So let’s talk about this as it relates to speeches and presentations.
A Far Better Approach
Let me start with this:
There are only two primary aspects to spoken word humor (comedy) in ANY environment – off stage or on stage:
- The topic information itself (called the set-up)
- The related comments, questions, observations, etc. that are the result of having activated a person’s sense of humor and that generate the laughs (punchlines)
With that said, there are just two conditions that allow you to easily produce original humor content for a speech that involves a person’s sense of humor in a natural and organic way:
- The topic information in the speech activates your sense of humor. If not…
- You can add (or substitute) related topic information that does activate your sense of humor.
Using this approach there is no guessing involved whatsoever to produce humor content for your speeches.
You are are simply using your already developed, ready to roll sense of humor in the natural and effective way that you use it when you are not delivering a speech.
When you are engaged in casual conversations and you say something that causes others to laugh, what actually happened?
What happened was you or someone else brought up some sort topic or information that immediately activated your sense of humor and you acted on that by expressing a response causing laughter to occur.
So you tell me – why can’t you use this EXACT SAME PROCESS when it comes to adding humor content to a speech or presentation?
You can – and should! Let me share this secret with you:
I promise you that it is NOT the result of some plug and play, “guess the right joke formula” and hope for the best hooey being peddled by the vast majority of so-called experts on the subject of adding humor to speeches.
If you are looking for a real world example of what I am referring to, here’s stellar one for your review:
So if you really want to know if most of the humor that you add to a speech or presentation will get laughs with a great measure of confidence, you should use and express your sense of humor the way you usually do in everyday life.
And if you try something that doesn’t work, just don’t let your audience know and leave it out or adjust it the next time you are presenting.