After your most recent public speaking engagement your best friend, Bob, says to you, “Oh, you know, I heard Bon Jovi died today.” “Really?” you answer. “Yea, he was shot through the heart.” Although the joke is not one of Bob’s bests, you think it’s somewhat funny and a week later try to tell it to your publicist, April. Only you don’t hit the punch line, and you leave April with raised eyebrows and an “was that supposed to be funny” look on her face.
You don’t want your public speaking audience to have the same look as April. Thus, it is imperative that if you are going to use humor during your presentation that you know how to deliver a punch line. This is not as easy as many people think. If it were, everyone would be a comedian!
First of all, timing is everything. You can’t laugh at something inaudible and neither can those at your public speaking engagement. So pause before and after the punch line to make sure it gets across. Continuing to speak after delivering the line will kill the laughter before it begins!
Pick one person from the crowd and focus your attention on him or her. This will make the joke come off more personal and that person’s laughter will act as a catalyst for the others. But before just picking anyone, do your homework. Notice who’s having fun, who’s laughing, who’s smiling, or nodding the whole time. That’s your guy…or girl! You don’t want to chose a nonlaugher! This will only result in crickets...which if you’ve been paying attention, you know are not good!
Social hour by the bar can really have an impact on where your public speaking audience will focus its attention. Make sure you know who is laughing with you and not at something else. That can have a huge impact on which person you should chose! Remember…you don’t want an Aprils staring back at you and looking for an exit!