Wednesday, March 17, 2010

5 Sure-Fire Public Speaking Humor Techniques You Can Use to Get Optimal Laughs!

The following article is courtesy of Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel, an author, sales writer, seminar leader, and creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking.

Every author should put public speaking into their marketing arsenal if they want to brand themselves, get more fans, and especially if they want eager buyers lining up to buy their books.

One of the quickest ways to BOND with your speaking audiences is to effectively weave humor through out your presentation. Here are my five commandants to getting the Big Yuks so you can get the Big Bucks when giving a key note speech.

Fogel’s First Commandant: Thou shall know your audience. Are they young or old, or mixed? Remember: Humor is so subjective. A youngster of six might laugh at a good “making potty in your pants” joke because that’s what they do. On the other hand, a senior might not find it amusing, only because he might’ve “just made potty in his pants” himself, and is a tad embarrassed.

Fogel’s Second Commandment: Thou shall test your material. 25 years of speaking and stand-up comedy tells me NEVER, never, ever test a new joke as your opening line. If it bombs, (urggh!) you had better have a good saver. I once performed on a cruise ship where I quickly learned elderly seniors sometimes lose the sarcastic gene once they hit retirement age. (Maybe, it’s the law.) This particular audience took my joke literally (meaning they didn’t get the joke) and thought I was insulting another performer (when I was not).

Fogel’s Third Commandment: Thou shall choose your target appropriately. For humor to work you must realize that there’s a punch line and/or victim in the joke. In observational humor you make fun of the fact that everyone loses a sock in the dryer—and you get laughs at the recognition of it. No harm; no foul. In a corporate setting do not make fun of the CEO that hired you unless it’s cleared with the CEO himself.

Fogel’s Fourth Commandment: Thou shall be self-effacing. Ever notice why fat comedians like Louis Anderson get constant laughs? Because they put themselves down. That self-deprecating type of humor will work in a comedy club. But in a speaking setting, you want respect. To do that you should use self-effacing humor.

Share you frailties with your audience. Years ago Firestone had tires exploding off of SUV’s. Once it hit the newswire -- that night I used that reference as an opening line: “Hope you’re all in a good mood. Two days ago I bought stock in Firestone.” Huge LAUGHS from the audience. Take away: Find some current catastrophe in the newspaper that occurred at a particular company and substitute “Firestone.” Try it; it works!

Fogel's Fifth Commandment: Thou shall take notice of the seating of the room. Humor and delivering strong content works best when there is intimacy in the room. Get early to your engagement and make sure (to the best of your ability) that the seating arrangement is in close proximity to the stage. If it is not, know your humor response will be LESS than you expected.

The above techniques work for me, and I know they will work for you!

-- Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is an author, sales writer, seminar leader, and creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more info and to sign up for Peter’s FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course (Value: $65), go to:
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