You Must Be Joking? Incorporating Humor Into A Speech Or Presentation

Using humor in a speech or presentation can help to add an air of authority to your content because everyone loves to laugh! One of the ways to use humour in a speech is to incorporate a joke that is relevant to your content.

Now, in order for that joke to work you need to edit it down and interpret in your own way. Don’t feel that you’re not qualified to do this. You are don’t worry. As long as you can speak and paraphrase you’re going to be fine at editing a joke. I understand that it may be difficult to understand the process of editing a joke, but I’m going to do my best.

The point of this article is not to turn you into a comedian. It’s to help you spice up your content with humor so that you can connect with your audience and have them feel confident with your ability as a speaker or presenter.

Firstly, make sure you’re on your own. Like… sitting in front of your computer. Okay, take your joke and say it out loud. You will probably stumble over the words because jokes that you find in books or on the internet have extraneous words because they help with the reading of the jokes. But these words aren’t necessary for the actual spoken delivery of the line.

Most jokes have a small story element to them and so that’s what is included. For example they will contain words like: “One day…” or “…and says”. Those are structures that we are used to and that help us when we are reading the joke. But they are not at all helpful when you have to deliver that joke.

So read the joke out loud a few times to familiarize yourself with it. Then put it to one side and repeat it a few more times. Just give yourself a bit of “rehearsal” with it. What will begin to happen slowly is that you’ll forget bits of the joke and, as a result, paraphrase the joke into your own words.

You’ll naturally make shortcuts. Believe me, this is not a bad thing. This is exactly what you want to happen. As you do this try to cut out the storytelling elements. Try to get straight to the meat of the joke. For instance if the joke begins: “one day a CEO turns to one of his employees and says sternly…” You can edit the joke so that it reads: “A CEO turns to an employee and says…”

You cut the word sternly because you should say what the CEO says to the employee in a stern manner. You don’t need to tell your listeners how the CEO is speaking because you pretend to be the CEO. So that’s 6 words that have been cut and 1 word that has been added.

It’s also better to keep the joke in the present tense. Even if it’s happened in the past. You’ll say something like “last year…” then the tense will immediately change as if it’s happening right now. That street joke has got to unfold in front of your audience like it’s happening in the here and now. It makes it more immediate for the listener.

How do you know what will make the joke work? Well, the punchline is pretty important. The set-up is important as well, but that can usually do with a bit of trimming. The punchlines are the bit at the end that gets the laugh. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious for some of you, I just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.

I’m going to refer to a joke that I’m sure we all know: “why did the chicken cross the road? to get to the other side”. The punchline in this case is “to get to the other side” so this is important to keep because that’s the line that will generate the laugh.

That said, the set up line is also very important because if you just said the line “to get to the other side” you will get a lot of blank stares. So you need: “why did the chicken cross the road?”. But what you have to be careful of is to make sure that all the important details are there. The chicken is important as is what the chicken is doing.

Remember that editing and delivering a joke are fused together at the hip. You need to practice the joke out loud again and again so you are familiar with it and it flows naturally.

You should also make sure that you personalize the joke if you can. Don’t make it any CEO if you can safely make it your CEO. But obviously you have to be careful that you don’t offend anybody and risk losing your job. The best thing to do is to make yourself the butt of your jokes. By laughing at yourself you are more likely to win the audience over to your side.

So to re-cap: Find a joke that is relevant to your theme or topic in a broad way. If you cannot find jokes specifically about the Human Resources Department, maybe there are jokes on a broader scale. Exactly what point are you making about H.R.? That they’re really organized? That they’re incompetent?

Then you need to say your joke over and over again out loud so that you become familiar with it. By doing this you will naturally edit bits of the joke out that don’t work for you because you will forget bits. Next go through the joke with a fine-toothed comb edit out any story elements. Finally, make the joke personal and in the present tense.

One Line Jokes

I keep looking for that perfect sentence to open up the conversation. Should I talk politics, science or religious? Well, the best ice breakers are humours. Whether it is a one line joke or a funny comment, it has to be non-offensive. Spruce up your character and be calm. Loosen the tension by one line jokes, sense the peace inside.

It is true that sense of humour is an integral part of selected humans. I mean consider Spike Milligan; he was an Irish serving in World War II, and still a Jazz musician and later on a musical comedy actor. Quick One Line Jokes compared to the more traditional jokes have an advantage as to their practicality. I mean, in today’s busy life, people want to hear something quick, get charged, and get back to whatever they were doing.

I have always been curious about how people make up a joke. Is it some kind of inspiration, or someone really sits and thinks to make one up. It seems that the paragraph style jokes have a story to it. Perhaps the designer put some thoughts into it and assembles it one sentence at a time. However, one line jokes have a different characteristic. They represent a real life situation. One line jokes are the ones that spice up our life, they are short, right to the point and do not require a great deal of brain power.

One line jokes come handy in speeches like when the Best Man gets the audience attention by tapping glass of wine by a fork. You see some new businesses use promotional coasters to promote their services or products. I strongly suggest making it fun, including one line jokes on coasters. This way, your advertising investment will go a long way.

Indirectly “one line jokes” remind us of some of the gifts we possess and don’t get a chance to appreciate. For sure we all can remind ourselves how great it feels: When we smell a new rain, when we observe a new or half moon, a good comfortable bed, good family and friends, washing machines, peace that we feel inside, caramel candies, trees, burger king, a warm bath after a hard workout, grandchild, and the list goes on and on.

Hopefully we wash our hands before a meal, so why not wash our mood before attempting to engage in a task, speech, learning, and social events. It is shown that humour does lift off degrading emotions. It simply substitutes them with positive energy. Makes you enthusiastic and opens opportunities. Here is an idea: why not write up one line jokes on a piece of sticky note and place it on your mirror.

I personally found it pretty effective specially when you wake up on Monday morning and see it before you wash your face. I can relate to it, washing my face to wake up, and at the same time cleaning my mood by reading the note on the mirror. Try it, you see, I personally look better when I see myself in the mirror and it is just a Monday morning!

Got a Good Joke? Keep It to Yourself

In a social gathering, many people often joke. They may kid one another while enjoying an evening together with friends, food, and beverage. We are relaxed among friends, just kidding around. But that’s the social world. The business world is certainly not the same as a social gathering. In a business environment, we might gather over the proverbial water cooler and talk shop. Humor has a place in business, but you have to be careful not to offend.

You have probably heard many jokes that started, “There was this Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister having lunch together… ” right? Some of these are funny, others are dull, and some are downright vulgar depending on your sensitivity or point of view… and these days some people are very sensitive, critical, and quick to explode and take offense.

A joke in a comedy club or on late night television might cause the audience to become hysterical with laughter while the same joke at a conference table or break room can cause hysteria too, but this type of hysteria may cause someone to talk to Human Resources, an owner, or supervisor. People have been fired or disciplined over insensitive or misplaced humor.

The problem of humor in business is that everyone has some sensitive issues in their psyche and the jokester does not know who is sensitive to which issues, or even what those issues might be. Many people are touchy about religion, gender, identity, racial, political, and national origin issues and can be easy to offend. The offended party might not act offended, they might just laugh along with the joke, but then take their business elsewhere or feel that the jokester is an insensitive, offensive boob and not want to work for or with that person.

This is an age where “political correctness” is or can be a contentious issue and seemingly everyone is sensitive to perceived slights, even though the person telling a joke or making a comment is probably innocently trying to entertain, others may feel put down in some manner.

Business isn’t a barbecue in the backyard or out on the deck. Co-workers or customers are not family or friends. The goals of business are different from our social goals. Some people are easy to offend and easy to anger, so work at being less of a comedian and more sensitive to feelings of others. It’s good business.

Did you hear the one about?