One afternoon a few weeks ago, I walked into my local whole foods store to pick up some organic fruits and vegetables that I was going to use for dinner that night. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown by farmers who grow their crops – only using pure and natural methods and without the usage of harmful pesticides.
Just as fruits and vegetables that are grown organically and naturally, not only taste better but are also much healthier for your body -likewise, inserting only natural “organic” humor into your speech is not only much healthier for your speech, but will also keep it from self destructing on you!
Many speakers today, begin their speeches by warming up their audiences with a “classic joke”, and sometimes they will also go off on tangents right in the middle of their speech to tell a joke. Not only is doing this, “unnatural” to your speech and which takes away from your message, but it can also be extremely dangerous.
Has the following scenario ever happened to you?
You’re looking forward to sharing a great message with your audience, but before you start, you decide to warm up your audience by telling a joke. You have great intentions – So you go ahead and tell your joke thinking that you are going to get a laugh. But what if you don’t? What will you do when you get no reaction – and the only reaction you get is stunned silence? Perhaps you didn’t say the punch line right. Perhaps you picked the wrong joke for this particular audience. So in essence, you didn’t warm up your audience – you actually cooled them down! In fact they are now ice-cold!
Comedians have a name for this unfortunate situation. They call this “bombing”. When you “bomb” at any point in your speech especially in the beginning, you will loose your audience and you might possibly be spending your entire time struggling to get them back and many speakers who “bomb” never do get their audience back. When you know you “bombed” and your audience knows you “bombed”, it is extremely hard to recover from this kind of situation. Even if you do recover, all your energy will have been wasted trying to to do just that! It is not a place where you want to be.
“Organic Humor”- A better way
Most speakers look for ways of how they can “insert” humor into their presentations. They try to squeeze humor “unnaturally” into their speeches. They try to find a joke that somehow correlates to their speech and audience and they “insert it” at various points in their speech. As I had mentioned earlier, this kind of humor can be extremely “dangerous” to your speech. This is obviously not what you want to do.
Look for the Humor that is already in Your Speech
Instead of inserting humor, you should be looking how you can uncover humor in your presentations. When you look for the humor that is already in your presentation, you will be far ahead of what most speakers do. How to “look for” and uncover the “natural humor” that is already within your speech, will be discussed in a future blog post.
As the saying goes, “seeing is believing”, so to illustrate why you and should only use humor that is natural and organic to your speech, I have included below, two separate (30 second) video clips of a 7 minute speech that I gave. These videos are a continuation of the video that was shown in commandment number one. You will see me use a “laugh line” that I start my speech off with. I gave this speech to two entirely different audiences. One gave me the laugh and the other did not.
“Organic Humor” With hardly any audience reaction
“Organic Humor” With Huge audience reaction
It wasn’t about the size of the audience
One audience included many people who were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s and the other audience was mostly comprised of people in their 20s and 30s. One audience got the “laugh line” and the other – for the most part did not (except for a few chuckles here and there). One audience gave me a huge laugh and the other did not – And it had nothing to do with the size of the audience.
The size of the audience was not the issue here. In-fact the audience where the laugh was negligible, was twice as large as the audience that gave me the huge laugh. However, the fact that I didn’t receive the laugh from the younger audience, did not deter me from moving on in my speech because the humor was “naturally” occurring to my speech. However, if this was a “classic joke that I started with, and for whatever reason I got no response from the audience, I would have “bombed” and that would have been the end of my speech.
But since I used “organic humor” that was natural to my speech – whether the audience laughed or didn’t, made no difference to my speech and I simply moved on. So the next time you give a speech make sure that your humor is naturally occurring and “organic” to your speech. Don’t ever insert your humor – uncover it! Because it is there!