Last week, you read about a foundational concept – how to incorporate humor to be a funnier speaker.
Here is a 7-step process to uncover and develop that humor:
1. Ask “What could be funny about this?”
When I returned, she had hopped into the chair. She had an inquisitive look on her face, with her ears perked. I grabbed my phone and snapped the picture.
I looked at it, and knew it had terrific potential for humor. I asked the question, “What’s funny about this?”
2. Be open to whatever comes into your brain.
As soon as I asked that question, my brain went into overdrive. I grabbed a yellow pad and wrote whatever ideas popped into my head.
I like puns, and they were racing through my brain. I wrote down all of them. I thought of words or phrases associated with dogs that I could use in a different context.
An important point:
At this stage of the process, don’t censor yourself. You won’t use all ideas, but capture every one.
Here are some ideas that didn’t make the final cut:
“Hope you had a howling good time while you were out”
“Did you go pick up my pup-erroni pizza, Dad?”
“I’m feelin’ dog-tired, can’t a canine get a nap around here!!
“Well, aren’t you the cats meow, struttin’ in here late”
Here are the ones that made it into the post:
“She was barking out orders all over the place.”
“She said, “Sure, I’m all ears.”
“I thought she was being a little ruff on everyone.”
“After a long paws for reflection”
“I’m going to have to bone up on all the new rules”
3. Run the material through Test #1
This is a simple test. After you read through what you’ve written, answer this question:
Does it make me laugh? (or, is it funny to me?)
After I wrote out the above ideas, I ran each through this question. If I laughed, and they helped me weave a consistent story, I included them.
The bottom line is, if it’s not funny to you, chances are it won’t be funny to others.
4. Run the material through Test #2
Speaking of making others laugh, that’s the second test. Do other people think the material is funny?
The post with the picture of Sky is an excellent example of this step. I received many comments and emails about it. People think it’s funny. Social media is an excellent tool to test potential humor for your talks.
Other ideas are to drop them into everyday conversations, test them at social gatherings, or try them in speeches at Toastmasters.
An important point here:
Don’t look for uproarious laughter in the beginning.
Humor takes time, testing and adjustments. Here’s a valuable suggestion from my mentor, Darren Lacroix. He’s a former stand-up comedian. When he gets an idea, he shares it with others. What he looks for is any kind of positive response – a smile, a chuckle, even an audible sound like “hmmmmm.”
Darren says, “Those responses tell you that you’ve got something to work with. Then you need to test and refine it.”
5. Use humor to support your foundational concept
In speaking, don’t use humor only to get a laugh. This can make you look like someone who doesn’t have a message. If you only want to make others laugh, that’s OK. But, let the group you’re speaking to know this ahead of time. Most organizations today are looking for entertaining presentations, but more importantly, they want a valuable message.
Your funny material should support a point, ease the tension in a story, or set up a memorable line. Humor simply to create laughter only leaves audiences with a good laugh.
6. Don’t be afraid to laugh at what YOU say.
Some people have suggested that you shouldn’t laugh at your own funny lines.
Some of the best speakers in the world laugh at their own humor. One of my favorites, Les Brown, has an infectious laugh that spurs his audience to laugh even more. He laughs at many of his own lines. And, Les definitely leaves people with powerful, life-changing messages.
When you laugh at humorous lines or stories, you show your audience that you’re having fun. Don’t you enjoy presenters who have fun when they speak?
When you’re laughing at your own funny lines, you’re not propping yourself. You’re acknowledging the humor of the words you’ve said. If something is funny, laugh!
7. If they don’t laugh, don’t sweat it.
Unlike a comedy routine, humor is not the most important part of a speech.
If audiences don’t laugh at a comedian’s jokes, that’s bad. If people don’t laugh at your stories or one-liners in your speech, remember that it’s the main message you want them to walk away with. If they take that away and use it, the laughter is a bonus.
If they don’t laugh at the humor in your speech, it’s OK. They still walk away with your main message.
Humor is a great connector. It opens people to your message.
Use these seven steps to craft more humor in your speech. You’ll increase the chances of your message sticking long after you speak.
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© 2017, Michael Davis. All rights reserved.