Laugh! I nearly cried! We all love to laugh; it’s a great feeling. We pay attention to people who make us laugh and we generally remember what they say. For me, Sir Ken Robinson is one of those speakers. He has a serious message but he has a way of getting his points over in a light-hearted way: he makes his presentations fun.
The problem is that when budding speakers try to be funny they very often aren’t. It sounds only mildly amusing, completely irrelevant, groan worthy or worse still rude and inappropriate.
Know your audience
To make your presentations fun, understanding to whom you are speaking to and what will go down well is essential. We tend to think of what makes us different but when we’re dealing with an audience it’s more a question of commonalities.
For one thing, they’ve all come to listen to you and your subject. What else do they have in common? There will be something that unities the majority and it’s the majority you must speak to.
Keep it relevant
Being funny doesn’t mean telling the first joke that comes to mind. Instead find the humour in the subject. You can make nearly all presentations fun in this way. There’s always a lighter side to what we do, even if you’re a mortuary technician.
There are lots of types of humour and not all will be appropriate. However, most subjects should allow for the use of irony, self-deprecation and simple comic contrast.
Humour is often found in the mundane
You don’t have to be outrageous or exaggerate to be funny. There is humour to be found simply by contrasting the mundane with the absurd, for example:
“This product is available in green, grey, black, blue, yellow and puce.”
Jokes like “Knock! Knock! …” and “Why did the chicken cross the road …” are anti-humour. They’re funny because they’re so obvious.
Keep it simple
Above all when you’re starting out with humour try and keep it simple and try not to take yourself too seriously.
Voice & Speech Coach
Clearly Talking, Melbourne, Australia.
© Copyright text Robert Williams & Clearly Talking Vic Pty Ltd
© Copyright Illustration Victor Bryant