Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Public Speaking : How to Make a Point with Humor

One of the old saws of public speaking says that you should 'Tell em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em.' When you want to make a point during your presentation, you can use a similar formula. You tell 'em the point, illustrate the point, then tell 'em the point again. This formula, however, can seem boring and redundant if you don't spice it up a little. One way to do it is to use humor. Here's the formula:

1. Make your point.

2. Illustrate your point (in our example below we're using a humorous two-liner, but you could use props, humorous props, funny stories, serious stories, case studies, etc.)

3. Restate your point.

Here's an example where your point is 'The Importance of Communication.'

1. First make your point by saying, Accurate and clear communication is an important part of our everyday lives.

2. Then illustrate your point. In this case use a humorous two-liner. It's like the student pilot who was asked over the radio to state his altitude and location. He said, 'I'm five feet nine and I'm in the left seat.'

3. Then restate your point in a slightly different manner by saying, You can see how what we may think is clear communication could be interpreted incorrectly especially when people are under pressure.

When you use humor in a public setting . . . especially when you are speaking to a business audience, or any audience who is not specifically there for humor, make the humor reinforce your point and you will get a much better response.

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