Old habits die hard…
Do you want to have a career wrecking experience, then follow one of the oldest pieces of advice about public speaking “tell a joke and relax the audience”!
If you do this then the jokes on you!
Any amateur attempt to become a comedian and tell a joke makes audiences nervous because everybody knows the attempt is likely to fail.
Even Amy Schumers wit and social relevance and self-deprecating humor that fans come to expect can get into trouble. The Washington Post took a step in a surprising direction earlier this week, publishing an article by Dr. Stacey Patton and David Leonard that called out comedian Amy Schumer as a racist.
The point is this being a stand-up comedian is an art mastered by only a few lifetime professionals and if you are not one of them, why risk making a career wrecking joke of yourself in the attempt?
Don’t worry about deliberately incorporating humor. Most speakers find something that is naturally funny to laugh at during a talk, like a Freudian slip, or even forgetting your own name or something humorous that members of the audience throw in, unintentionally or not, during a Q&A period.
The most natural expression of humor is the simple smile and since most smiles are started by other smiles, simply make it a point to smile at least a couple of times during your talk especially at the beginning. By relaxing, you’ll naturally be more humorous.
Here’s the big point.
Understand today’s audience, they will not respond or react favorably to off color, racial, stereotype or gender bashing jokes. They are the most sophisticated, educated, cynical and have unprecedented access to information. Do not insult them, speak down to them, they can handle intimacy and are in touch with their feelings.
Don’t take yourself too seriously; your natural sense of humor will come through when you are relaxed and giving your speech. Show up as a real person, they will listen and applaud you.