Speak Funny! Using Humor in Presentations

We’ve all had to give a public presentation at some point in life. My career as a professional stand-up comedian has taught me firsthand, how to succeed with any kind of audience. When I moved into professional speaking, I quickly discovered the great advantage of that kind of speaking over comedy. In speaking you don’t have to be funny! But if you are it’s an added bonus. And who doesn’t like bonuses!

Unlike a comedian, there is very little risk involved as a speaker not being funny. If you “bomb” as a comedian you risk never getting booked again. If your humor fails as a professional speaker, simply continue with the presentation. No one however likes to hear a round of silence instead of one of laughter. But that being said, in this politically charged world, you do have to be careful what topics you approach when using humor.

Here are some tried and true tips to give your humor the best chance to succeed on the platform.

#1 – You don’t have to be a comedian to be funny. Anyone can tell a joke. Find your comic persona. What type of humor are you most comfortable with? Some speakers are better at one-liners, some at observational humor and others excel at story telling. Timing is essential. The closer you stick to your natural timing, the more success you will have.

#2 – Know your audience! Are they blue or white collar? Liberal or conservative? What do they have in common? Are there regional sensibilities? The nature of your audience determines the type of humor that will work best. A colleague of mine jokingly yelled out “Last call at the bar!” Only to discover most of his audience were Alcoholics Anonymous members! Not a good move, and had he done his research this wouldn’t have happened.

#3- Localize and personalize your material.

Audiences love to be included. Tailor your humorous anecdote. Make it seem as if it just happened. They will think you are incredibly talented. Mark Twain said, “The best improvisation is rehearsed for 48 hours.” It is better to say “On my way here from “Newark Airport” than “I was at an airport.” Personalize humor from a joke book or speaker’s file. The audience wants to relate to you, and you want to relate to them.

#4 – Be prepared with a few “What IF” lines. What IF the mike malfunctions? What IF the lights go out? What IF a fire alarm sounds? What IF, IF, IF…If you have some set lines and those situations occur, and you have a witty line, you will look like a comic genius on stage.

#5 – There are many ways to add humor to your presentation.

Make enlargements of relevant funny cartoons. Use props. You are only limited by your imagination.

#6 – Humor is important because it keeps your audience interested. Your job is to impart information. The more attentive they are, the more they will learn. Humor is a great learning and memory tool. We remember the funny commercials during the Superbowl, advertisers spend millions on making that happen, because they know it works and creates a buzz. You want people to leave your talk empowered and talking about what a great experience they had.

#7 – Have a good time. Then your audience will too. Leave them laughing

(Excerpt from Fran’s book: Humor in Business Speaking, which was posted at NoStringsAttached.com


Fran is a motivational speaker and speaks to businesses all around the world. She is also a comedienne, comedy show producer, ordained minister, 18 time-author, spokesperson, consultant, and 6-time world record holder, most known as the Guinness Book of World Record’s Fastest Talking Woman. She has appeared on over 4500 radio shows and 450 TV shows including: The new Meredith Vieira Show, Entertainment Tonight, Nick at Nite & Good Morning America. She recently had a video go viral and was in Time magazine, The Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Buzz 60 and media outlets around the world. Fran recently returned from South Korea on the “National Mom Comedy Tour” entertaining our troops. Fran is an avid adventurer and has bungee jumped, scuba dived with sharks, scaled castle walls, driven race cars, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and gone down to the wreck site of the Titanic, and then writes about it to entertain audiences. Her 18th book, Hopeville: The City of Light is being touted as the Alchemist meets Think and Grow Rich and has hit #11 on Amazon! (All this while as a single mom!) Fran knows how to live life to the fullest and loves to share it with the world. To learn more about how to book Fran for events, purchase her books, or sign up for her quarterly newsletter filled with fun facts, cool stories and information visit: www.francapo.com

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