When charismatic speakers make audiences laugh, you think, “I wish I could do that.” They make it look so easy.
You don’t need to be naturally funny to incorporate humor into your personality. Use it to enliven your presentations, grab everyone’s attention and win over potentially resistant listeners.
To practice spreading good cheer, apply professional comedians’ techniques. Whenever you come across a clever line (in a movie, TV interview or even a blog), write it down. Keep a humor log that you can draw upon as needed.
When you mingle in groups or sit in an audience, note what makes others laugh. Do they enjoy speakers who poke fun at themselves? Do they like gallows humor? What types of stories strike a chord?
You may find that the more power or authority speakers possess, the more well received their self-deprecation. And gallows humor works particularly well to leaven a crisis. In the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, the U.S. president meets with his squabbling advisers about how to prevent nuclear war and tells them, “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.”
Other tips to integrate humor into your remarks:
Keep a straight face. Don’t laugh at your own jokes. A deadpan delivery works best.
Skip the preface. Never announce that you’re going to tell a funny story. Jump right in.
Pause before the punch line. Beware of talking too fast when telling a joke. If you hurry to finish a story, your audience may not follow you. Rushing almost always undermines the impact of humor.