3 Ways to Include Humour In Your Speech (Part 1)

Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike
3 Ways to Include Humour In Your Speech (Part 1)

Do you know what the word “mortified” means? Let me tell you. It was my first time traveling by myself. I was at the airport going through security – and you know how scary that can be, right? Especially if it’s your first time and you don’t know the procedures. I step up to this big, brawny security agent – which made me super nervous! – and he tells me to scan my passport face down. What I heard was “scan your face down.” So… I put my face on the scanner! … and waited! I wish it was a joke, but no – the security agent and the entire line behind me couldn’t control themselves and erupted into laughter. I was mortified.

There are actually a couple of different ways you could tell this story, depending on the feeling you want to show, what you want to highlight, and whom you’re speaking to: “Oh my goodness you guys, you won’t believe what a goof I am, I thought this airport security dude was wanting to scan my face!” “I encountered a slight verbal misunderstanding with a security agent whilst passing through airport security.” “I just made an honest mistake and then everyone around started laughing at me!”

You can choose how to tell your story, depending on how you want people to understand your experience. The same is true in speechwriting. You can change your speaking style depending on the message you’re trying to convey – perhaps funny, perhaps serious, perhaps a bit of both. In this article, you’ll learn how to incorporate humor into your speech and how to support your message by varying your tone to make your speech more interesting and entertaining.

Let’s start with humor! Although everyone has their own sense of humor, everybody enjoys a good laugh. And while some people might be naturally “funnier” than others, a lot of humor simply depends on understanding the audience, the situation, and the topic. So, good news! These are things that you can practice. Now, there are many ways to add humor to your speech, so we encourage you to watch videos of other speakers to see their humor, and then experiment for yourself. For now, let’s take a look at three common types of jokes.

  • One of the classic types of jokes is a pun.

This is a humorous way of using a word or phrase so that more than one meaning is suggested. For instance, “I’m not scared of insects… But they really bug me.”

  • Another type of joke is unexpected humor.

This is when your audience expects what you’re saying to go one way, but you take it in a surprising direction that makes the audience laugh. For example, “In my speech, I will talk about three simple methods of weight loss. First, eating less. Second, exercising more. And third, paying millions of dollars to live in space.”

  • Finally, you can also use sarcastic humor.

Sarcasm is when what you say is opposite to what you really mean. You can hint at it by using the tone of your voice. For example, “When one door closes, another one opens... so your house is probably haunted.”

Now that you know how to come up with jokes, let’s focus on how to incorporate humor into your speech. Start by identifying parts of the speech where it would be appropriate to make a joke. There’s no universal formula for it, but you need to make sure that the humor would strengthen your speech and not harm it. Remember that the focus should be on your content, so the joke shouldn’t distract the audience from your main points.

So what would humor sound like in an introduction? Let’s say you’re giving a speech on “Schools should teach children how to spot fake news on social media.” One way you could start your speech is with unexpected humor like this:

As Abraham Lincoln famously said in 1863, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” And I think this is so true. Often, we don’t check if something is true before sharing it, and this is why fake news is becoming a growing problem in our society.

Now that you’ve learned about some different types of humor and tips for how to use them, in part two of this article, you’ll learn about using structure and tone to add style to your message.

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Coach Mike
Post by Coach Mike