How to be funnier. (even if you’re not.)
“Humor is truth, only faster.”
“Should I add humor to my presentation?” “How can I make my talk funnier?” These are questions that clients routinely ask me. And I am happy to tell them why they should “find the funny” and how to use it to boost the impact of their presentation. As a communication consultant slash stand-up comic, I know that humor is the “special sauce” that engages audiences and makes your message unforgettable. And I’ve been trying to spread the word — recently I shared my tips on being funny as a guest on Angela Lussier’s terrific “Claim the Stage” podcast. Listen here.
Why does humor work on audiences?
Here’s just a few reasons: Humor “keeps it real”; it reveals more of your personality, failures, challenges, etc. to the audience so they can form a relationship with you. And when you are able to get a laugh at your own expense, it shows your resilience and optimism. It also makes you relatable to the audience because it shows you to be human and fallible, just like them. Humor, like stories, create bonds between you and your listeners that go deep. And humor doesn’t just make people love you, it makes them remember you. Laughter activates our attention so that we easily remember what we heard right before and after we laugh.
But what if I’m not “naturally funny”?
Many people I work with tell me that they are not “naturally funny,” (even when they’ve made me laugh at something seconds before). The problem is that they are comparing themselves to famous professionals. It’s as if expert status — like Jerry Seinfeld or Amy Schumer level — is the only acceptable standard of funniness. “Well, I don’t have an HBO special or a gig on Saturday Night Live, so I guess I shouldn’t even try.” The truth is that all speakers get laughs occasionally, and if people laugh at what you say, even once in a while, then you are officially and “naturally” funny. And more importantly, you can learn to be even funnier.
Scared straight — fear mongering the funny
If you search the internet for tips on using humor, you’ll find some good ones, but you’ll also find plenty of warnings and “THINGS TO AVOID.” I think all these “don’ts” scare the crap out of the average person — hey, it’s not as if you want to get on stage naked! So it’s my mission to encourage you to add more humor. If you’re in front of audiences regularly then you can try stuff, tweak it, and try it again, just as you do with other talk: story, sequencing, gestures, visuals, etc. And then you’ll be like the professionals — honing your chops.
Here’s how to find your funny
Click link below for specific how-to-be-funny-tips. But remember, as you find your funny, don’t expect instant miracles. Be patient, allow yourself to experiment and refine repeatedly. Remember that this is supposed to be fun for you too. If you enjoy it, that’s great, keep going and maybe even take an improv class to boost your skills and creative thinking. And if you find that humor isn’t really for you, that’s okay too. These tips may help you just have a bit more fun with your audience.
To get my free tip sheet on exactly how to add humor to your talk click here.
Have you tried to add humor to your talk or presentation? How did it go? I’d love to know and so would everyone else. Please share your experiences and thought in the comments!