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Want to Add Humor to Your Speeches?

 Do you want to add humor to your speech? Don’t.

Never add humor to your speech. Always uncover humor within it.

There’s a huge difference.

Added humor is often forced and you have to go out of the way on a detour to get  it. However, uncovered humor is what I call Detour-free humor. In  other words, you don’t have to go out of your way to run into it.

So where do you Uncover this humor?

You uncover it in your stories; more specifically within your characters; even more specifically between your characters’ dialogue. If you want your speech to be funnier, dialogue is where you should look.

However, it’s not just the line of dialogue but it’s also the reaction to the dialogue that uncovers the humor. But let’s start with the  dialogue. Listen to these two 30 second clips of stories and you’ll see where the dialogue uncovers the humor.

First Clip

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Second Clip

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I didn’t have to go anywhere to get that humor. It was right there in the stories. Now, what if I didn’t get a laugh? So what! It wouldn’t be awkward at all because it’s still part of the story. However, if you take a detour to tell a joke, guess what happens when it doesn’t get a laugh? Everybody knows it and you certainly feel it. Ask me how I know this.

The Secret: What did each of those audio examples have in common?

What did you notice about the dialogue from each of those audio examples? Here’s the secret that I learned years ago from Patricia Fripp. Give your other characters the best lines. In this case, give your other characters the funny lines. I’ve seen so many speakers give stories where they are the ones always saying the witty things and giving the funny lines. You want many of your funny lines to be said by a character who is not you. That way you don’t come off as a know-it-all and as the only one you think is funny.

Secret Humorous Formula?

Here’s a 3-step formula that I have yet to share but I use often.

  1. Give your other characters an emotional (or powerful) line of dialogue
  2. Then react to it with your face and body
  3. Then respond to it using your inner dialogue

Remember, as Darren LaCroix says, “Reactions tell the story.” If another character says a poweful line, not only can you react physically but you also have the opportunity to let us hear your inner dialogue (what’s going on inside of your mind), and that can often be funny. For example, listen to this quick 30-second audio of another character saying an emotional line followed by my physical reaction and my inner dialogue response. In other words, listen to this 3-step formula in action:

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Let’s review so we can uncover more humor

Never add humor to a speech; always uncover humor within it

You’ll find the humor in the dialogue between the characters in your stories

Give other characters some of the funny lines. After all, you want your audience to know you appreciate humor that comes from others. Plus it brings those other characters to life.

When you give the other characters the emotional lines, you can then show your physical reaction before inviting us into your inner dialogue for a humorous response.

Final Thoughts:

Whatever you do, there’s no need to go on a detour to add humor to your speech. Just dive into your story and into the characters and into the characters’ dialogue and you’ll uncover more humor than you need. Seriously!

11 Responses to “Want to Add Humor to Your Speeches?”

  • [...] Want to add humor to your speech? Here is why you should NOT [...]

  • Gino:

    Dear Craig!!!

    Thank you very much for this special course of “(not)adding humour to the speech” :-) I love entertainment and I am attending Toastmasters meetings in my country Slovakia Toastmasters Bratislava (it was declared as the best Toastmasters club in Europe!!!) and at the moment I have been in Spain, in Valencia:-))) I really love to make humorous speeches, so this topic really enriched me! Stories and Examples are the best way to speak with confidence and to know entertain our audience:-) Thank you Craig, and looking forward to your next speaking lectures! Best regards, Gino ;)

  • Jim:

    I have learned so much from you, Craig. Thank you for your great tips!

  • Phil:

    Craig, the timing of your article is perfect – I am competing at the District in a week. I’ve gone through my speech and made a few changes based on your advice. The speech is better, funnier, and have a better flow. Internal dialogue is a great place to add humour, and like you said, there are no detours to come back from. Thanks for another piece of the puzzle – one day I’ll have the whole picture!

  • Maciek (Poland):

    Amazing. The formula you’ve presented, Craig, is probably the best way to create a speech with a uniqe humour within.

    It was very important for me to learn about using the inner dialogue and that the other side of the conversation should be given the best lines.

    Learned a lot today.

    Thanks.

  • Andy:

    Awesome. When I looked in my email inbox today and saw the title “Do you want to add humor into your speeches?”, I said to myself, “He’s making it sound like we actually stick in some humor into the speeches.” But I clicked the link to this page anyway. “Don’t” was a really nice answer.

    But what was even nicer was the “uncovered humor” through dialogue and within other characters. Never thought of it that way. Half the time I find myself telling the “humor” in an indirect way, but I bet it would sound better if I centered it around more than just me and my antics.

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