Many people are under the impression that the process for generating laughter while giving a speech or presentation is somehow vastly different from delivering stand-up comedy.
This notion is FALSE.
The comedy mechanics for generating audience laughter are exactly the same as those needed for stand-up comedy regardless of the speaking environment.
The big difference is that speeches and presentations usually contain additional “essential informational content” that is not designed or intended to generate laughter (which is NOT required for a stand-up routine).
One of the most extensive articles that I have written on the topic of adding humor to speeches and presentations can be found on my new website dedicated to funny public speaking:
For any trainer, teacher or public speaker who is looking to “punch up” up their speeches and presentations with comedy and humor, here’s what you need to know:
1. Just like with comedians, one cannot simply “write” themselves into being “funny” for an audience — they must have AND apply some baseline comedy talent in order to generate significant laughter (see #4 below).
Writing is simply not the same communication method as verbal communication – the two are vastly different in the way they are learned, executed and the audience receiving the communication.
Subsequently, “writing” is not completely interchangeable with talking to provide the desired outcome (laughter).
Think of it this way – you don’t “write” notes to get laughs when you are engaged in casual conversations with friends, family, coworkers and colleagues.
So you tell me – why EXACTLY do you suddenly need to start “writing” anything in order to generate laughs for public speaking audiences?
2. Public speakers have two choices when it comes to generating laughs with “original” comedy material (based on an individual’s sense of humor):
- They can react to the material (informational content) they are delivering using their own sense of humor or…
- They can add content that they CAN react to using their sense of humor relative to the “informational content” that is presented.
Either way, when it comes to the frequency of laughter a person wants to generate from a speech or presentation, it is about:
- Knowing what a punchline really is relative to the person using them and…
- Structuring what one wants to say relative to the speech content being presented in a way that gets the most laughs possible when appropriate.
3. Public speakers have the advantage of being able to inject common street jokes (aka joke jokes) that are appropriate into their presentation (not usually the case in the comedy club scene) along with other open source comedy material such as funny quotes as long as credit for the quotes are provided.
4. Just like with comedians, MOST of a speaking professional’s laughter generation power comes from their delivery and effective use of their already developed expressive comedy traits — not the literal words and sentences used by themselves.
Again, those critical visible and audible aspects are not usually considered (or incorporated in any meaningful way) when speech content or stand-up comedy material is “written” in a manner that is designed to be read by an individual reader versus that which designed to be expressed and experienced by a live audience.
When it comes to generating laughter from an audience, there is NO difference between public speaking and stand-up comedy as far as the comedy mechanics go. It still revolves around structuring what one wants to say in a natural and organic way way that produces the most laughter possible.
And again, if speaking is your thing and you really want some detailed insight about the process of adding humor to speeches and presentation, don’t pass up this important resource:
Just a side note: That’s why the Killer Stand-up Online Course can provide a distinct advantage when it comes to helping speaking enthusiasts and professionals alike use their natural comedy talent and sense of humor effectively in any public speaking arena.
And in the near future, I will have a course available that is exclusively geared for public speaking but is based on the same strategies and techniques that pro comedians use to get laughs on stage.