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Friday, November 30, 2007

Public Speaking : Old Humor is Good Humor

Using old humor at a public speaking event is not as bad as one might think. Most audiences won’t remember the specific details or the punch line for a variety of reasons. You can use this as a benefit because old jokes are tried and true. They’ve been tested, approved, and given a shiny gold star by the masses. Take the gold star and run with it. Just make sure you buffer your old humor when including it in a public speaking presentation. Tell your audience it’s old, that way you aren’t really taking credit for the joke, and they won’t be disappointed if they’ve heard it already.

Also, you can modify the old jokes in your public speaking presentation by including current or timely information. For example, if you are telling a joke that includes a President of the United States, change the name from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush. Such a small detail ensures the joke connects with your public speaking audience in some fashion.

When used correctly and tailored, old humor can add a silver lining to your public speaking event. Humor is almost never a bad call, especially preapproved humor! Who knows, maybe the audience members will even thank you for reminding them about a joke they’d forgotten and loved!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Public Speaking : Odd Body Angles

Most public speaking audiences don’t expect you to do a crab walk across the stage or flap your arms wildly like a chicken. Why would they? Such behavior is uncommon.

This is exactly why you should use a funny walk or an odd body angle in your public speaking engagement. Stand-up comics from Steve Martin to Charlie Chaplin have been using this technique for years, leaving audiences in tears (happy ones).

Normally I’d forbid it, but now is your once and only chance to use a mirror to create a public speaking movement or angle that works for you. Go ahead, practice in front of the mirror; I won’t look.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Public Speaking : Numbers are Funny

Numbers can be funny if you find a creative way to use them in your public speaking event. Just like Alaskans with snow, there are multiple ways to say numbers. For example, zero is zip, zilch, nada, etc.

Money, somewhat part of the business world I hear, also has several names; C-notes and Benjamins for a hundred dollar bill, 5 spot or fin for $5, and a twen for $20. Using this vocabulary in unexpected ways will surprise your public speaking audience and, let’s hope, make them laugh. If your public speaking audience consists of uptight investment bankers and you change their jargon, you are guaranteed a laugh.

Also, remember that the rule of brevity in the world of public speaking excludes numbers. Instead of shortening your phrases, exaggerate the numbers by using the long form. Instead of saying 4’2”, say four feet two inches or one thousand two hundred instead of twelve hundred.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Public Speaking : Mock Ups

Mock ups are an interesting way to add humor to any public speaking event. Typically, a mock up is a changed version of a newspaper, book, etc., that fits with your presentation. Today’s word processors provide a simple way to develop a variety of publications.

A way to ensure your public speaking audience will find humor in this is to use a medium or topic related to them. David Glickman, a parody writer, uses the Dummies series to invoke laughter. He changes the title of the series to something the members of the audience will find amusing and relative. You could copy this idea for any situation. Say you are presenting to a room full of lawyers. The cover of the book could say Lawsuits for Dummies, or something of the like.

This unconventional humor tactic will go over well with any public speaking engagement as long as it fits the occasion!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Public Speaking : Malaprops

A quick way to add comedy to a public speaking event is to say something strategically stupid. You’re thinking, “What? What the heck does that mean?” If you know anything about comedian Norm Crosby, you have an idea. He used malaprops in his act and usually received standing ovations.

Now, I can’t promise your public speaking audience will shower you with the same accolades. However, if you use this technique correctly, you may hear a clap or two. Maaaybe.

A malaprop is a phrase that should make sense but doesn’t due to either the arrangement of words or word choice. For example, “Every Tom, Dick and Harry is named William.”
While this isn’t hilarious, it will add some comic value to your public speaking presentation. I don’t bet that it won’t!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Public Speaking : Juxtaposition

Carefully thought out juxtaposition can add humor to your public speaking engagements. This entails placing two ideas or objects side by side for comparison purposes. Oxymoron and pleonasm are the two different types of juxtaposition that you can use. An oxymoron occurs when two drastically different concepts or words are placed together. For example, loud silence, jumbo shrimp, and random order. Pleonasm happens when there is redundancy, like young child, positive praise, and killed dead.

You can add a subtle comic value to your public speaking presentation but creating juxtaposition. Use your knowledge of the audience to enhance the impact the words play. There are thousands of websites dedicated to this topic to assist you in your quest to add humor to your public speaking speech (Did ya catch that?)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Public Speaking : Humorous Signs

If you look around when you are out on the town, you’ll see a plethora of funny signs that you can use in your public speaking presentations. Of course you want to make sure that they fill a purpose, but this can be another tool to add humor to an event.

John Jay Daly, another public speaking professional and friend of mine, presents a slideshow depicting all the off-the-wall signs that Washington, D.C. has to offer. The audience loves it!

One public speaking professional I have seen used an applause sign, which the audience members loved. Every time he wanted them to clap, he held up the sign, and they did! Not only does that engage the audience but gives you a little self-confidence boost as well, even if you did fish for it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Public Speaking : Humor Placement

Does this matter? ABSOLUTELY! Knowing when and how to use humor in a public speaking event is crucial. Life threatening, even! Ok…well…maybe not that bad but it will affect the way your audience receives your presentation.

Here are some tips I’ve learned through my many public speaking engagements:
1. Don’t start off with a joke; it’s expected and unoriginal. It’s the presenter’s attempt to get the audience members on his side from the very beginning. Try getting into the material a little bit before impressing them with your Robin Williams-like talent.
2.Determine how long your presentation is going to be. If you have an allotment of 10 minutes to give your public speaking presentation, 9 of those minutes shouldn’t be humor. Similarly, if you have 110 minutes, more than 9 of those minutes should be humor. See what I’m saying?
3. Make sure your humor relates to the audience. There’s no point of making the effort to be funny if your material is directed to the wrong group of people. Learn who is attending your public speaking engagement and tailor your material to them.
4. Finally, use what I call, planned spontaneity. This is basically planning comments that seem to be spontaneous but really aren’t at all. These make you seem witty and flexible…always good with an audience!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Public Speaking : Finding Humor for Specific Industries

Tomorrow you will have a room full of doctors staring back at you during your public speaking event, and you’d like to score a point by having some humor related to their profession. Good call but how are you going to pull that off?

First of all, if the presentation is tomorrow, why didn’t you think of this before? Someone has been slacking off!

Secondly, each industry whether it be medical, political, or even underwater basket weaving, has websites, books, magazines, and newsletters geared to that specific area. Finding material to use in your public speaking engagement shouldn’t be too hard! You just have to look. I’d suggest starting folders on each industry when you come across usable material. That way, even if you’ve slacked off to the last minute to prepare your presentation (AHEM!) you’ll still have resources to work with.

What’s that? You haven’t started a folder yet and are strapped for time because your dog needs to be walked, your kids have a school project that is laying in 25 sections on your living room floor, and your friend Bob needs you to bail him out of jail, AGAIN….alright…well in this is a great time to use those contacts you’ve been making…someone you know from all that networking you’ve been doing is bound to know a few sources to help you out.

The easiest way? The internet. It’s your unlimited source of information! And, hey, while you’re on there, feel free to download some information for that on-going file you’re going to be keeping!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Public Speaking : Humor Delivery Tips

Are you a naturally funny person off stage but once you get to your public speaking event your jokes bomb? Humor rescue team to the….uh….rescue! Follow these tips and you won’t have any marathon sleepers on your hands!

**Never ever tell a public speaking joke on stage that you haven’t practiced in real life about a thousand times. You don’t go into a fight without training…or sending someone for you…why go on stage without testing your material? (And no, you can’t send in a pinch hitter!)

**Minimize your amount of movement when telling a joke. I like to pause at important points for emphasis.

**Explain actions or mathematical equations…but NEVER EVER explain a joke! If the crowd doesn’t get it move on! And make a note to keep that one for your friends who will pretend to laugh to make you feel good. Ha!

**Memorize a punch line! Your public speaking joke is not going to seem funny if you have to stop, pull out an index card and be like, “Oh, ya, here it is…”

**Which reminds me, don’t let your audience know the punch line is coming. It’s called a punch line for a reason! And use the fewest words to get to is. Brevity is clarity!

**And lastly, and most importantly, don’t repeat a punch line. There’s no point, the joke was already made! Move on! The only time this can be acceptable is if the public speaking audience doesn’t laugh. Then later you can make fun of yourself for it, but only then!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Public Speaking : How to Make a Point with Humor

I’ve always been a big fan of using humor to engage my public speaking audience members. This tool also is good for driving home points of a speech. I’ve modified the old public speaking formula, which says, “Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and follow up with a summary of what you said.” My new model includes how to use humor to make sure your audience remembers your point but also gets a laugh.

First of all, make your public speaking point. Then flesh out your statement with props, humorous props, funny stories, serious stories, case studies, etc. Finally, restate your point.

This model for adding humor to your public speaking engagement will not only win over the crowd but ensure your point is made in a memorable way!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Public Speaking : How to Deliver a Punch Line

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!