Adding Humor To Downers

Speech Brighteners are also a great way to add humor ….

IMG_6582Of all the advice, I have ever received about adding humor to a speech one might consider a downer; a sad or tragic experience, being natural and authentic has always served me best. Humor is all about being natural. If you practice, speaking or doing what comes naturally, getting people to laugh without you having to crack even a smile, could leave your audience laughing uncontrollably. If you want to be funny, don’t try to be. Natural humor can found in the worst of your experiences, even a downer.

It is possible to find natural humor regardless of the audience you are facing. Keep in mind humor can take many different forms.  In the delivery of your stories, you may use exaggeration; to stretch the imagination of your audience. Exaggeration often results in laughter. If your subject matter is related to numbers, instead of just using eighty percent, try using eighty, point nine, nine, nine percent which may leave your audience laughing about the absurdity of your overstated number.

A play on words is another good source of humor. Some words have more than one meaning which often generates natural humor – for example – They are taxing us right and left – do your taxes right and you will have nothing left. Then there is the understatement – like the director who ordered – Send out an S.O.S backward to keep it secret – This is also an excellent example of implication – Humor that makes a point but lets the audience fill in the blanks, however, the blank must always be obvious.

“Speech Brighteners” are also a great way to add humor to your speeches or presentations, especially topics considered dry, dull, and badly in need of a pick-me-up. Speech Brighteners can simply be a one-liner the speaker adds to their content with little or no disruption to the flow of their presentation. Here are a few examples.

  • I don’t mind suffering; it’s the pain that gets me.  
  • I trust everyone, but I always cut the cards.
  • I expect nothing; therefore, I’m never disappointed.

Another form of brighteners are “Topic Brighteners” for example:

  • Envy: When you are getting kicked in the rear, it means you ‘re in front.
  • Age: A woman’s age I can never tell, but I can always tell a man’s age by what he takes two at a time – stairs or pills
  • Taking No Chances: Psychiatrist to patient – since you suffer from loss of memory my fee is one hundred dollars in advance. 

Keeping a journal or story file with similar titbits is also very important.  Create a folder and collect those funny sayings you experience in your everyday human interactions. Humor is everywhere. Collect and use them in your speeches and presentations and your daily conversations until they become part of the way you communicate naturally.  

Author: HenryOMiller

Henry joined Toastmasters in 1997. He is presently a member of 4 Toastmasters clubs; two in Santa Cruz and two in San Jose. He is a DTM-4. Henry is an executive speech coach, humorist, and speechwriter. He is also a musician and a lyricist​ whose speechwriting approach is similar to his approach to songwriting.

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