One of the most common fears that people have is a fear of public speaking. The pressure of putting yourself in front of a crowd with nothing more than your own intelligence and wit can be a frightening endeavor for many. Whether you are presenting a pitch in the board room or giving a best man speech at a wedding, humour can help endear you to your audience while making your speech memorable.
“That the best communicators that I’ve seen always throw some humour in no matter what they’re talking about. Audiences sometimes need that little release.” – Danny Wallace
Your Comfort is the Crowd’s Comfort
“I used to have a real fear of public speaking, I was absolutely terrified of presenting in anything more than a boardroom setting with a few people around a table. I did have to learn to do it but I didn’t feel as if I would be a natural at it. You can play a couple of different movies in your head. If the movie you play in your head is messing up your words, the audience hating you, falling over on the way to the stage, wishing you’d never done it, then there’s a chance that might happen. Choose to play a different movie in your head before you go on.” – Cally Beaton
The Heart of Cally Beaton’s quote comes down to one thing: how can you make yourself feel more comfortable and capable in front of a crowd. When presenting a pitch or performing public speaking, confidence is key. Humour can give us the tools to take ourselves less seriously so that we can feel more comfortable in front of a crowd. When you are confident and comfortable in front of a crowd, your audience will mirror your attitude and be more perceptive to your message.
The Right Kind of Humour
“If in business you have to deliver some sort of speech, and you think there’s some expectation or requirement that you might have to be funny, be nice first, because if they don’t like you, from your first few comments, you’ll never get it back. If you get up and you think it’s fine, because you know Janet, who’s introduced you, she’s head of HR and you go way back and she wears the most awful shoes, and you get up and you go, ‘Thank you, Janet, and I must say, what an appalling pair of shoes.’ Well, as far as the rest of the audience are concerned, they’ve just seen a man say something really unkind to someone who they quite liked, and they don’t know the context. So don’t do it. Don’t fall for the trap that slagging people off is going to make you popular. Be nice first.” – Marcus Brigstocke
Weaving jokes into your speech can be a valuable tool to get the audience on your side. However, jokes are only valuable if they are appropriate for your environment and your audience. The humour you use in a speech or a pitch should endear you to your audience, not turn them against you. Much like comedian Marcus Brigstocke says, being nice is far more important than being funny. Choose comedy that helps you connect with the crowd and they will be far more receptive to your message.
Humourology and the Pitch
The whole premise of Humourology is to use humour to create a human connection. When presenting, lean in to humour. Studies show that when we laugh, we learn so the more your audience smiles, the more they will get out of your speech.
If you are looking to pump up your pitches and master the after-dinner speech, check out my books, The Pitching Bible and Humourology https://humourology.co/about-humourology/humourology-book/
Both are filled with expert advice on how you can become the public speaker you’ve always wanted to be.
See you next Tuesday.