Humorously Speaking

Every speaker benefits from using humor. Learn how to begin a speech with a humorous story to get listeners’ attention, end a speech with a humorous story, use humorous stories and anecdotes throughout the body of your speech to emphasize points, incorporate jokes into presentations and prepare and present an entirely humorous speech.

Part of the Advanced Communication Series.

Project Time Objectives
1. Warm Up Your Audience
5-7 minutes A humorous story at the beginning of your presentation will attract listeners’ attention and relax them, gently leading them into your speech. An opening humorous story should be relevant to your speech topic, simple, readily identifiable as humor, and appropriate for your audience. Most stories are composed of five parts: the set-up, the pause, the punch line, the punch word, and another pause. Deliver the story confidently and make sure your body language doesn’t give away the story.

  • Prepare a speech that opens with a humorous story.
  • Personalize the story.
  • Deliver the story smoothly and effectively.
2. Leave Them with A Smile
5-7 minutes Closing your presentation with a humorous story ensures the audience remembers you, lets you reaffirm your message, signals the audience that your speech is over, and lets you exist with flair. The story must reemphasize the main point of your speech. Remember, humor must be unexpected. A successful humorous story leads listeners in one direction, then at the last minute fools them by suddenly changing direction.

  • Prepare a serious speech that opens and closes with humorus stories.
  • Prepare a closing story that reemphasizes the speech’s main point.
  • Deliver the stories smoothly and effectively.
3. Make Them Laugh
5-7 minutes After your audience listens to your speech for a few minutes, their attention may begin to wane. Using humor throughout your presentation will bring their attention back to you. You can use humor to reinforce your point, provide comic relief, provide a break, and to refocus attention. Insert humor in your speech wherever the speech lends itself to it. After telling the story or joke, move smoothly back into your speech by changing the tone of your voice, delivery rate, or facial expression to indicate a mood shift.

  • Prepare a speech that opens and closes with humorous stories
  • Include jokes in the speech body to illustrate points or maintain audience interest.
  • Deliver the jokes and stories smoothly and effectively.
4. Keep Them Laughing
5-7 minutes An opening joke can break the ice and hep you deliver a rapport with the audience. The safest joke to tell is one about yourself. Audiences love to hear a speaker put himself down. Telling a series of jokes of the same subject in the body of your speech is also a good way to illustrate points or to break up complex or tedious portions of your presentation. Make sure transitions between jokes are smooth, as are your lines leading from your speech into the jokes, and from the jokes back into your speech.

  • Prepare a speech that opens with a self-deprecating joke.
  • String together two or three related jokes in the speech body.
  • Close the speech with a humorous story.
5. The Humorous Speech
5-7 minutes The purpose of a humorous speech is to entertain. Humorous speeches have a theme, make a point, tell a story, and use exaggeration to create the humor. Once you’ve selected your topic, break it down into several subtopics, then develop stories and jokes about each subtopic. Tie everything together with your narrative. Pay careful attention to delivery, as it can make or break a humorous speech.

  • Use exaggeration to tell a humorous story.
  • Entertain the audience.
  • Effectively use body language and voice to enhance the story.

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