Making your audience laugh is important — but are you doing it the right way? Find out what my top 10 strategies are to make ’em laugh!

Andy Harrington
4 min readFeb 1, 2018

If you’re just starting a career in public speaking then you’re not too far away from a tough crowd. You most likely thought that having the right voice or look was your recipe to a smooth-sailing public speaking career but I’m afraid, on this occasion, you’re wrong.

There comes a point on that stage where it seems like the most tasking hurdle is trying to get everyone to loosen up without looking like a complete twat. You want to get your audience to open up but still take you seriously as the authority figure that you are in your niche.

I found that a little humour goes a long way in this industry. You need to get your audience to enjoy themselves. When people are shut down, they tend to be limited and compressed but the exact opposite occurs when they are having fun. Their neuro-circuits open which in turn causes them to express themselves and open up more. This here is exactly what you are looking for — you want your audience to open up! `They become more receptive to your ideas and can therefore be influenced by you to potentially take action on your message too. With all this said, it’s important not to get carried away and overdo things. To avoid this, you need to find the right balance of humour. Know when it’s time to be funny, how long you should keep the humour going for and when to just let it go.

My experience over time led me to formulate 10 strategies that always helps me when presenting. I’ve used them for years and it’s allowed me to win over my audience with the occasional humour yet maintain my position as an authority figure in public speaking. Well now I’m going to share my knowledge with you! Let’s explore how you can be funny when telling a story in order to loosen up your audience so that they’re entertained, enjoy themselves and ultimately lower their guards to receive your message better.

  1. Don’t tell jokes: This is where most people get it wrong, — telling jokes cannot be your base for humour during your presentation.

2. Funny situations and dialogues: Use funny situations and dialogues to make your audience laugh. Often one of the humorous things that happen, does so because it comes out of the mouth of one of the characters within the story. You are responsible for the story telling, it’s up to your audience to see which bits are funny and the reality is, you won’t always know. Even comedians have to practice several times in front of smaller audiences until they get their delivery right or even discover if something is actually funny in the first place.

3. Humour is a derailment: In other words, you should try saying something you’re your audience didn’t see coming. Things are funny when something is said or happens unexpectedly.

4. Setup is as important as punchlines: Punchlines are what we tend to remember but without a setup there’s no humour because your punchlines need a place to plunge into. This is why your setup is essential. It goes hand in hand with the punchlines.

5. Timing is key: Knowing the right timings when delivering your punchlines is important. You may have to pause before, after or make a facial expression. Timing comes with practice and stage time so, practice.

6. Punchlines: Your punchlines must be delivered short and quickly. Like most comedians do, aim to reduce your punchlines to its shortest format. The shorter it is, the funnier it will be so long as it gets the message across.

7. Don’t step on the audience’s laughter: In other words, when you’ve finally gotten the audience to laugh, don’t carry on with the jokes or dive back into your story. Instead, wait until the laughter is about to die down just a little bit. At this point you can throw in another punchline if you have one for another rum of laughter.

8. Act it out: Don’t hesitate! Slapstick or exaggerated humour has to be fully acted out. You can’t be half hearted, you have to be confident and just go for it!

9. Don’t take it personal: People’s misfortune is often funny especially if it’s yours! Majority of the time, you’ll be the butt of most of the jokes.

10. Parodys or impressions are exceptionally funny when done really well.

Follow these 10 tips and you’ll have your audience laughing without having to think twice in no time. Don’t overdo it or try too hard, you don’t want to come across as desperate. Simply remain calm and keep it natural.

As always, feel free to connect with me on social media to let me know how my top tips helped you make your audience laugh during your presentation.

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