The Benefits of Humor in Speaking

laughter11.jpgQuote: “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and the other guy has an even better sob story.”

If you’re still wondering after all these weeks, “Why should I use humor in my speaking?”, then I better write another column! But for those die hards who are still joke shy, let’s look at some of the many benefits that humor offers.

Humor is good for us mentally, physically and socially. If we adapt humor as a way of life, it can benefit us before, during and after our speech. Humor is an overall booster shot with no harmful side effects, except maybe a sore jaw from laughing so much.

This week I’d like to highlight all the mental benefits of humor:

Humor helps you thrive in change. If you can laugh at a situation, you can live through it. If something unexpected happens on stage, you can handle it.

Humor gives you a better outlook on life. Who would you rather listen to, a comic or a statician? How about a comical statician?

Humor is good for the soul. You feel good, the audience feels good and it’s safer than sex.

Humor can disarm anger, and allows the problem to be solved If you take a humorous approach, you can handle any hostility from the audience, providing they are not throwing knives, in which case you better be Houdini and disappear.

But let’s say it is the “normal” audience and some jerk yells out “All women are the same.” The audience is now tense, waiting for you to reply.

You could get angry and say, “How could you say such a stupid, ignorant comment?” Or, instead, you can smile, look at the guy and say, “Hey, I’m glad you noticed. Now what seems to be the problem?” The guy will feel like an idiot, which he is for making the comment in the first place. The audience will catch your meaning, and you remain in control, and they will be on your side.

I’ve done this disarming tactic several times in clubs. It always works. Comedy club audiences are much harder than speaking engagements, but it is still always good to be prepared.

Humor improves self-esteem and self-confidence. When you have the audience smiling and enjoying what you are saying, you feel more relaxed and in control. Confidence builds. The more sure you are of yourself, the more you exude confidence. The audience will trust a confident person more, because they feel “she’s got it together.”

There is power in making people laugh. Your audience will admire you. You in turn will feel better about yourself.

Humor acts as an escape valve. A good placed joke can cut tension in the room, and allow pressure to escape. The comic relief, that doesn’t make a problem go away, but sure makes it more tolerable.

Humor makes bad news or statistics easier to swallow. If your subject is the poor educational system, and how our kids don’t know anything, you could set up the topic with an opening joke like this one; “They say our kids today don’t know the value of a dollar. They certainly do. That’s why they ask for five.”

Humor works as a blocking agent against panic – before and during a speech f you are nervous about speaking, make yourself laugh. The traditional advice is to picture your audience in their underwear of in some old fashioned pointy bras. Any bizarre image that will make you laugh.

During the speech if you mess up a line – joke about it. If you take it lightly, so will the audience. You are only human and so are they. What a profound thought! They make mistakes, you make mistakes. “But,” you think to yourself, “I’m the expert, I’m not supposed to make mistakes!” Where was that written? Hey, even Ann Landers, the romance advice columnist, got a divorce. Get over the fact that you have to be perfect in your speech and humor delivery. Lighten up mentally, and your audience will enjoy you that much more. Until next time… yourself and have a good time!

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