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Value of Humor in Public Speaking

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Self Improvement

For those, uninitiated in the art of public speaking, delivering a speech means lots of butterflies making antics in the stomach. You will be amazed to know that most of the experts hold that dynamic oratory is more an acquired skill than something you are born with. That means you have to work on certain skills and techniques to emerge as a coveted public speaker. Incorporation of generous doses of humor in your speeches is one such technique that distinguishes you from the other public speakers. The only thing is you have to learn how to make use of humor to deliver a truly attractive rhetoric.

Your success as a public speaker is determined by the degree to which you can impress the audience and able to make them agree with your point of view. This depends on the flow of communication between you and the audience. Now a flat and monotonous presentation lands you nowhere as a public speaker. On the other hand, an interesting speech establishes an easy flowing communication between the audience and the speaker. Various attention-grabbing devices act as the bridge and connect the speaker with the audience. Humor is probably the most effective of all these techniques. Did you know that among all human emotions, humor is most far fetching? It serves the dual purpose of engaging the audience to what you say and also entertains them. A humorous presentation is also good for the speaker himself; a humorous approach helps the speaker to handle the stress factor better.  So a sure-fire trick to click as a public speaker is to use the humorous elements in your speech starting from introduction and throughout your communication. A speech replete with clean and high quality humor will be remembered forever by the audience.

Humor is particularly helpful where you have to unfasten some unpleasant and controversial issues before an audience who may not respond to them quite warmly. With the touch of humor, these sensitive issues can be presented in a more soothing way. The mingling of humor with these serious matters will keep the curiosity level of the audience high without making them cynical. Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest orators of all times, was particularly good at wrapping the serious political issues in humor to make others see his point.

One important thing that a public speaker should always remember is that he or she has to grab the attention of the audience within a matter of few seconds and therefore has to use any technique as effectively as possible. So your jokes or anecdotes should be very relevant in the first place. They should help in establishing your point. Never say the things that are funny but drift your audience far from the topic. Those jokes are of no use that diverts the attention of your audience from the theme itself.

Always be careful that your humorous remarks do not hurt the sentiments of any particular religious or ethnic group. An irrelevant joke or humor that reflects your bad taste creates the occasion for doubting your credibility as a public speaker. A professional speech will never contain those elements which are better known as risqué or blue humors that have their references in sex, bodily functions, ethnicity or shock value.

In order to deliver a humorous speech you should be careful to mix the right kind of humor with what you say. This implies, whether you will use a hilarious anecdote, or a joke with understated humor or a simple witty one liner all would be conditioned by situation, audience type and of course your own personal style. Not all types of humors are suitable for what you are trying to accomplish. So use the most suitable form of humor that will help in getting across your views to the audience and strengthen your point.