Whenever someone asks me if there is a formula for giving a winning humorous speech, my answer is always sure, why not! In a five-to-seven-minute contest speech, mine is twenty laughs – five chuckles and one belly full of laughter. What’s yours? The question that follows is often, and how do you get to your 20, 5, and 1. My response, you keep track of your Laugh Count.
Humor is an unstated requirement in a humorous speech. Your laughter should begin within your first 20 seconds. When your audience is laughing, you are connecting; your audience is listening and learning. Don’t try to be a comedian. Comedians tell jokes. Speakers connect with stories about people, places, and things. We explore topics some may find silly but funny to others. Have you thought about why it’s okay to watch your watch and not clock your clock? There you go! I often wonder why that statement generates laughter. Look around, and you will find enough silly, funny, and humorous fodder to share with your audiences. All you need is a good setup and a relevant punch line.
Always remember your purpose for being on the platform is to deliver a humorous speech. All speeches should have an opening, body, and conclusion. Your speech should also have a purpose. The purpose of giving a humorous speech is to make your audience relax, think a little, and laugh. If your subject matter is funny, it is easier to achieve your goal-laughter. Now we all know someone who can read from the Holy Bible and make it funny. It is all because of their timing, pauses, and, most importantly, their delivery. Humorous speakers develop those skills over time; however, the topics you choose can set you on a path to delivering funny speeches.
Your topic selection should be appropriate for your audience, the event, and the venue. Selecting the right topic for your audience takes research. For example, you may want to know the event’s history and some previous successful performers. What were their topics? What’s trending that may interest your audience? These are all questions you should consider if you hope to do well in a humorous speech contest. Do your homework. Audiences will differ. All reactions are not always the same. However, keep in mind humor comes from the unexpected. If your bit of humor did not increase your laugh count, don’t panic; turn it around; you could even make it self-deprecating. Now the joke is on you or the one person in the audience who got it.
Next, as you would do for any speech you are preparing, ask yourself, what is my message? Again, keep it light but ask yourself what you want your audience to take away from this experience. You are speaking to be heard, understood, remembered, and repeated as a speaker. When someone can remember the details of a presentation you delivered five years ago, rest assured you were heard, understood, remembered, and repeated. And that is the best trophy of them all.
Observe and analyze what makes your audience laugh to increase your laugh count. Think back and explore all the circumstances that lead up to the laughter. Then, try to determine what caused the laughter and how to repeat it over and over. The words you choose should be easy to pronounce to convey your desired meaning. They should not create any confusion or misunderstanding. Laughter is an emotion built up to a specific tension. Then suddenly, it is released to create a surprise. Lead your audience in one direction. And when they expect, you continue in the same direction; you turn to the other. Keep it simple. Less always creates more laughter.
One sure way to increase your laugh count, giggles, and chuckles is with tagging. A tag can be a brief quotation used for rhetorical emphasis or sententious effect. Look for opportunities to add a funny word, short sentence, or body language to provoke continued laughter, giggles, or chuckles. One of the masters of tagging was Mark Twain. He was first a humorist on the lecture platforms before he became known for writing humor. When he wrote, he imagined he was talking to his audience so that everything had his personal touch. In conversations with friends and family, we tag all the time subconsciously. As you prepare your speech, imagine yourself speaking to your audience. Add your personal touch to make every laugh, every chuckle, and your belly full of laughter count. Start developing your formula to increase your laugh count. And you might very well be the next humorous speech champion with some help from my formula and yours.