Humor is a tricky thing to master and an incredibly valuable communication asset to get your message across and have fun while doing it. Here are 3 tips to boost your jocular acumen:
- Give it pause. Often, humor needs space to germinate. Anticipate where in your speech you might get a positive response and plan for a strategic pause at each of those points.
Assuming where you might get laughs also allows you to account for the time it takes; this is especially important when you have a finite period to speak. However, if you get reaction in places you didn’t assume you would, get ready to adjust by pausing and soaking it up. No hubris here, you respect your audience by not trying to talk over their response. I call this technique “harvesting your laughter.”
- Test it out. If you are not sure if something will generate giggles, stop wondering and start ooching. To ooch, an apparently common expression in Southern US States, is to construct small experiments to test an idea, concept, or hypothesis. Clip-out those potential funny bits and try them out on unsuspecting test audience members at the water cooler, dining room table, or community market. Deliver a micro-portion of your speech, pay attention to the reaction; then, call a time out and ask them what worked, what didn’t and how you could do better. On second thought, drop the time out. That would just be silly.
- If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Not all of us have a
mainstream sense of humor. My mind is in gutter, or other more twisted places, more often than I would care to admit. That’s why I ask others if what I’ve produced is appropriate for my intended audience. Avoid confirmation bias by seeking out the opinion of multiple people from diverse perspectives. Asking your soccer team buddies about the F-bomb infested limerick you just came up with may not give you the insurance you are looking for. If opinion is divided on a sample of your humor, consider amending it or discarding it.
Your levity should fit with a clear majority of your audience, if it doesn’t, discard it like an Audrey Hepburn glove with a blown finger.
What are your tips to boost humor in a prepared presentation?