With thanks for Toastmasters International for this article.
You won’t croak if you tell a joke!
Let’s face it. Humor is hard! Even experienced speakers struggle with knowing how to (appropriately!) tickle their audience’s funny bones. We all enjoy listening to a funny speech –the problem is, we typically don’t think of ourselves as being funny speakers. Members of Toastmasters are no different; that’s why we have assembled a wide range of resource material on this topic.
Toastmasters exist to help your audience laugh with you, not at you!
Humor has many benefits. It can:
- Help establish a bond with the audience
- Win over a hostile audience
- Keep the audience interested
- Emphasize or illustrate a point
- Help people remember you
Here are some tips:
- Be yourself. Think about what types of humor you appreciate, then create a library of such items. Don’t like jokes? Try a humorous anecdote or a witty observation from your own life.
- It’s OK to be mildly amusing, rather than eye–dabbingly funny.
- Use humor sparingly, like a spice. At first, try using a humorous opener to your speech. A quote or offhand observation can be a good icebreaker.
- Keep it relevant to your speech topic.
- Avoid retelling jokes found on the Internet. Chances are good others have already heard or seen them.
- Keep it clean! Humor is supposed to make people feel good – not embarrassed, insulted or offended.
- Make it readily identifiable as humor. But in case no one laughs, prepare a comment in advance or just move on.
- Keep it appropriate to the audience and the situation.
- Self-effacing humor is safe –a little of it goes a long way. The audience would rather hear about the time you fell on your face than when you won the race.
- Work on your delivery. Practice using vocal variety and gestures.
- Timing is everything! Pause before the punch line.