Using humor in speeches- Tips and techniques

“Dying is easy. Comedy is hard“- British actor and director Sir Donald Wolfit on his deathbed.

Why is humor is so difficult ? Why do we dread using humor in speeches and presentations ? Is it an inborn, elusive trait, a gift of a privileged few ? Do only prosperous people laugh ?
Not necessarily. As Saul Bellow says, oppressed people tend to be witty. Jewish, Irish and Polish humor are great examples. In modern workplaces, subordinates of dictator bosses seem to have a tremendous sense of humor. The study of humor has always fascinated me as Asterix comics, PG Wodehouse and a host of friends gave me tremendous courage to withstand tough times !
Here I am trying to put together humor as I understand and feel.

Why me ? I am an expert on humor. If you lift from one source, you are a plagiarist. If you lift from many sources, you are an expert. And I am an expert ! Having established my credentials, I am sure you will join me in this search, share your views/experiences, critique, applaud and laugh freely !

Why this sudden urge to write on humor ?

Last month, I conducted a three hour workshop on using humor in speeches for Toastmasters (or TMs)of Division B & E, District 79, Dubai UAE. The well equipped Al Futtaim training center had 80 TMs dancing attendance on my quips and quotes. Division Governor Safeer Azeez, looking regal in his Arab outfit and the incorrigible Valsan P Menon, bouncing around in ravishing red ( Valsan is a male, if you please) made this possible. We discussed tips and Safeer Azeez, Division Governor Div B Dist 79 Toastmasters International, Dubai

Valsan P Menon, in mischievous red !

techniques, made people crack jokes and roasted VP Menon. More than the audience, I learnt a lot on how to keep the session taut, improved my sense of timing and repartee ! Feedback from the participants made me attempt this piece.

I will be regularly updating this column on the lessons learnt in using humor as a potent tool in my communication arsenal.

Now,I’d like you to visit this youtube link
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P6UU6m3cqk, watch the 2 minute clipping and get back.

Did you notice how the baby needed little prodding to laugh. The laughter was so full, wholesome. We all must have laughed like this. But as we grew up, our biases, prejudices and weaknesses prevented us from enjoying laughter. We seem to have forgotten this childlike innocence and joy.

Today, there is stress everywhere and when I asked a couple, both working in IT sector, “What did you have for breakfast today?”, they replied “oh, the usual argument !”. Can you blame today’s 30 somethings when they stay single and are not ready to mingle ?

How do we get that magic back in our lives ?

Specifically, as speakers, how can we add sparkle to our speeches using humor ?

In the next few days, I plan to write on :

What are the benefits of using humor ?
Why we don’t use humor often enough ?
Tips and Techniques gleamed from celebrity humorists and your friendly neighbourhood Toastmasters !

Thanks for being such a wonderful reader ! You reached this far ! Stay tuned and contribute any titbit that will add value to our discussion !

As they say, watch this space !!!

Next topic: Benefits of using humor

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