“Look your audience straight in the eyes, and begin to talk as if every one of them owed you money.”
– Dale Carnegie
Some presenters are born with the funny bone. The rest of us make do with lame or half-hearted attempts at humour. Whilst some play it safe and keep their presentation strictly relevant to the content.
All talk and no entertainment makes for a dull speech. Cracking jokes can be hard for some, but lighter moods enhance your speeches rather than dilute their value.
And who said it’s mandatory to joke around? You can be funny without the clown act.
These four humour techniques should elicit a laugh from the crowd.
USE CONTRADICTIONS FROM REAL LIFE
The best speakers use experiences from modern life to make their audience laugh. They target growing disenchantment with things and lack of attention to create a hilarious comment or observation.
When you attempt something similar, make sure the pun isn’t totally off track. Your body language and voice should sell the joke, so practice until you know it inside-out.
Stay relevant to the topic and highlight a serious point after you’ve mocked it. Be prepared with a backup plan in case your gag falls flat.
CREATE EXPECTATION AND BREAK IT
Humour truly works when you break audience’s expectation. Build anticipation in their minds with your opening statement, before using a punchline that does the opposite.
Find a connection that no one else sees initially, but recognize after your delivery.
The trick is to use a short punchline with effective pauses. Your laugh line won’t have as much impact when you use a normal statement instead of a short power phrase.
MAKE IRONY MEMORABLE
Irony can be cheap or memorable. This depends on how you, the presenter, uses the narrative. You can mock something that you dislike, but can’t change. Or you can use wit and tact to make your stance clear, without being offensive.
Create a story that’s different from your theme, but somehow shares a connection. This diversion allows you to take a satirical view towards the real topic. The narrative should intensify the loss of something important. It convinces audiences to accept a viewpoint contrary to popular opinion.
GO FOR SELF-DEPRACTORY WIT
The Brits have turned this into an art. When you poke fun at yourself, you give the audience permission to laugh at/with you.
Let’s say – you’re talking about a boring subject. Find something that connects you with the topic, but in a disparaging way. Over-exaggerate, but do it without trying too hard.
Have you made your audience laugh? Share an anecdote or two with us.