As public speakers who aim to inspire, not just to “get through it”, we want our audience to remember us for a long time to come and one of the best ways to make your audience remember you is to be funny (that’s because neurologically we’re more capable of learning when we’re happy). But what if you’re just not that funny? What if you try to make people laugh and all you hear is crickets? Or worse yet, in your desire to find out how to make a speech funny, you end up making your audience cringe?
Let’s investigate how to be funny in public speaking. We’ll start by looking at how not to be funny.
Let me introduce you to Cringeworthy Chris. Cringeworthy Chris has it all down pat. He’s learned all the tricks and jokes. He’s read the “How to make a speech funny” book, he’s watched “How to make a speech funny” the movie and he’s got the “How to make a speech funny” T-shirt. Surely, then, Chris should be funny?
Except… not. Cringeworthy Chris does leaves his audience feeling funny, but not in a good way. Using too many tricks & techniques he alienates his audience and either leaves the audience feeling cold, or feeling like they’ve been manipulated. Trying too hard to make a speech funny can leave a “funny” taste in the mouth and can lead the audience to that feeling of, “I don’t really like that speaker… but I’m not sure why”.
How to really make a speech funny is through authenticity. Not everyone is the same type of “funny”. Many times we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other people and their brand of humour. Some people are natural joke tellers, some use body language and slapstick humor, and some dry wit.
Making a speech funny doesn’t come in “one-size-fits-all”. What makes you funny is unique to you and the way you observe the world.
So, here’s the Ginger guide to making your speech funny:
- Find your kind of funny: Focus first on what you find funny in life and learn from your own reactions to the things that make you laugh.Trust that you do indeed have a funny bone. As infants we laugh from 4 months old and all children us humour such as riddles and knock knock jokes, even slapstick humour even as far back as kindergarten. You’re already funny, you just need to bring it out in yourself and your speech.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Think of embarrassing moments in your life, the major mess-ups, the times you just wouldn’t make changes, and maybe even the time you tried to make a speech funny-and no one laughed but you. Instead of focusing on the sting of a wounded reputation, look to see the humour and how you can share that with your audience.
- DO be self-deprecating and humble. Being approachable shows your audience that you’ve been through trials just like they have, that you’re an authentic person. . Be sure not to put yourself down in a self destructive way. This just causes a painful experience for the audience and for you. Self mortifying doesn’t make a speech funny, it makes it pathetic.
- Strive to actively listen. Listen carefully to audience feedback and really hear them, understand what your audience is about. When you’re busy focused on what the audience needs instead of yourself, you’ll get a better sense of how to speak to others with humour. Being able to listen will also enable you to observe and speak about the joy in life – making your funny self more believable and empathetic.
Be authentic, be you. How to make a speech funny all comes from who you are. Trying to tell jokes when you’re really a story teller will only lead to silent audiences and frustration. Don’t be a Cringeworthy Chris. Find your funny.