Speech humor, samples of humorous speeches, anecdotes, how to use humor in speeches
It's a funny thing about humor. Everybody loves it, yet most people fear using it in their speeches. Using it in their speeches, that is. They have a deep-seated belief that, if they try using humor, and it doesn't go over, they will end up with egg all over their face.
This is an understandable fear, but it doesn't need to be if you learn some of the tried and true humor techniques used by experienced speakers and presenters. We will tell you about some of these in a moment, but first what is it about humor that makes it so powerful?
This wonderful explanation was written at age 85 by Sam Ervin, Jr., the U.S. Senator from North Carolina who earned fame for leading the investigation of the Watergate scandal:
"Humor," he said, "is one of God's most marvelous gifts. Humor gives us smiles, laughter, and gaiety. Humor reveals the roses and hides the thorns. Humor makes our heavy burdens light and smooths the rough spots in our pathways. Humor endows us with the capacity to clarify the obscure, to simplify the complex, to deflate the pompous, to chastise the arrogant, to point a moral, and to adorn a tale."
One of the best sources of humor for speeches and presentations, and one that is almost devoid of any risk, are humorous quotations. If the audience laughs loudly, that's wonderful. If you get a good chuckle, that's wonderful, too. And if no one laughs, nothing is lost because you have made your point anyway.
There are thousands and thousands of humorous quotations in the IdeaBank files. Just type in the subject you are interested in, and click the "humor" option under the quotations search. Example: politics humor, winning humor, etc.
Another wonderful source of homespun humor in IdeaBank's Quotation file are thousands of proverbs from all over the world. Just pick the subject you want and type it in the Quotations query box, and then select the "Proverb" checkbox.
IdeaBank's Humor file contains a combination of longer-form jokes and short one-liners. Look at these humor entries as "bricks and mortar" to fashion your own personalized brand of humor. For example, tell the joke as if it had actually happened to you, not to some fictitious third party. Never begin with any of the stock openings such as "It seems there was this country preacher," etc. Say, instead, "We had a preacher in our home town who ..." etc. Don't think you have to start your presentation with a joke to warm up the audience. You can weave humorous quotations into your speech where their point is more relevant and as a change of pace for the audience.
We hope we have convinced you that putting some humor in your speech or presentation is an absolute necessity, even if the prospect seems daunting to you. Consider this testimony by the Wall Street investment banker Pete Peterson, who is in demand as a speaker all over the world:
"I frequently meet up with someone who has heard me speak months or years before and they will compliment me on the fine speech I gave. But they never play back to me the serious remarks I made. They always remember some bit of humor I used to dramatize a serious point."
For this reason, Peterson has developed what he calls the Peterson Principle. "If you want anything to stick to the bone, use some humor that is relevant to your message."