The picture above is obviously not a well known speaker (even though our neighbors hear her nightly ‘speeches’ to the squirrels, chipmunks, and deer in our back yard).
It’s our pup, Sky.
At first glance, is there anything funny about this picture?
Maybe, but it’s more of a ‘cute dog’ snapshot.
Adding the Right Words Made It Funny
However, when the following verbiage was added to it, people responded with laugher.
I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I stepped out of the office for a meeting. When I came back, this individual had taken over my seat. She was barking out orders all over the place.
I asked her if we could talk about this. She said, “Sure, I’m all ears.” But, soon after, she was back to her old tricks.
Frankly I thought she was being a little ruff on everyone. After a long paws for reflection, I realized there’s little I can do. I’m going to have to bone up on all the new rules around here, because,
She’s the boss now…..
How did I transform ‘cute’ into ‘funny?’
The roots of that answer go back 40 years.
It was 1977. I was listening to an interview with Bill Cosby. The interviewer asked, “How do people make themselves funny?”
After a thoughtful pause, Cosby said, “Surround yourself with humor.”
My 14-year old brain latched on to that advice. I immersed myself in the humor of the day – comedians like Steve Martin, George Carlin, and Richard Pryor. TV shows like Monty Python and Saturday Night Live TV. Magazines like MAD and National Lampoon.
What I didn’t understand at the time was that Cosby had planted a valuable idea in my brain. Humor, like any other skill, is a habit. By surrounding myself with humor I was training myself to ‘think funny.’
This habit tied into my love of entertaining others. Nothing is as powerful as a room full of people laughing with you, because of words you’ve said.
This skill became a valuable asset when I became a professional speaker.
If you want to be a funnier speaker, here are key points to remember:
=> There is no ONE correct way to be funny. Humor is one of the most subjective aspects of life. It’s impacted by your personality, your environment, events of the day, etc.
=> Begin each day – even if only for a few minutes – by listening to humor. This can include:
- Listening to humorous radio shows or podcasts
- Watching DVDs or streaming of favorite TV comedy shows
- Listening to MP3s or CDs of favorite comedians
- Reading humorous websites, books or articles
The list is endless. Pick one and use it consistently. Once you’ve established the habit, you can add others.
=> Know your own sense of humor. Some people are dry, some are zany, and others witty. When you know your style, you’ll be more comfortable employing humor in your presentations
=> Understand what is appropriate to your audience. In America, many speakers are using questionable language and subject matter in their speeches. This humor belongs in comedy clubs. If you’ve been invited to be a speaker at a group – especially if you’re getting paid – clarify what is and isn’t acceptable to them.
Bottom line: If you have to ask “Is this humor in poor taste or possibly offensive?”…… it is!
In next weeks post, you’ll pick up a quick 7-step process to evaluate the humor in your talks.
Until then, remember that humor has become an integral part of being a speaker. It can make your message stand out and leave a lasting impression on your audiences.
The first step to becoming funnier is to follow the advice of comedy masters…
Surround yourself with humor.
HARNESS THE POWER OF HOLLYWOOD STORYTELLING MAGIC
Do you give speeches? Make sales presentations? Lead meetings?
If so, imagine if you could instantly motivate and inspire your audiences, potential clients, readers, team leaders and followers to take action.
You can – by telling more powerful success stories.
Renowned Hollywood script consultant and story expert Michael Hauge offers business leaders, speakers, marketers, consultants and entrepreneurs the secrets of Hollywood storytelling magic. By following his simple Six Step Success Story™ formula, you’ll attract more clients and buyers by giving them their own emotional experience of success and achievement.
Michael’s six simple steps give you a powerful tool that you can use easily, repeatedly, and profitably.
I highly recommend this book if you want to be a more successful speaker, leader or sales professional.
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