When you ask a comedian about how-to-make-people-laugh skills, he/she would probably answer that you can attend workhops or read books, but nothing can really replace practicing on stage. Fortunately, we, as a Toastmasters members, have a lot of opportunities to perform. Moreover, what we learn, we can easily teach. Today, I would like to share with you my experience from not only Toastmasters stages and show you three steps of preparation to humorous speaking. This knowledge helped me to be better speaker and I believe it could be extremely useful for every Toastmaster who wants to develop the superpower of being funny… or even hilarious.
Get know your strengths
The first step begins very early in the process of your preparation. Before you start to create subplots, characters or even a topic, you should focus on yourself. Just think, what is your natural flow, when it comes to joking, public speaking or even vocabulary you use? Perhaps, you are able to remodel every voice you have heard or maybe your come backs are unbelievably sharp. Just, try to find the basis of your humour. In my opinion, it should be something that is your natural strength.
For example, my talent are words. I am good at rhymes, word-formation or words meaning games. I treat it as a main clue for every humorous speech. Not only most of my jokes are connected with unusual combination of words or soundings, but also I plan the topic in the way that will make it easy to implement the words games into the speech. It is the first filter for me to decide, where I want to direct my speech.
As many jokes as possible
The second step is important in the process of creating content. People, who have just started the adventure with humorous speaking, often think about jokes within the scheme long story-short joke. Unfortunately, not every joke is funny for all the people in the room. That is why it is very risky to count only on the power of a story and a strong punch line. Of course, having both of the mentioned elements is a huge step to success, but to provide yourself better response from the audience you should unceasingly tickle them. Of course not with your hands, but with your speech. By tickling, I mean, to plan as many jokes as possible. They do not have to be extremely powerful, it could one word, a gesture or just squawking the word instead of saying it.
The purpose of every humorous speech is mainly to make people laugh. So, for the speaker, it is crucial to use every second on stage, every word and every gesture to achieve it.
The third clue concerns the person on stage. I can really close it in one sentence: The stage is not the place to think. Many times, I saw great speakers, with huge amount of speaking competencies, with great material, with proper preparation … but there was something missing. Some people can call it charisma, other say that you have to be born with IT.
I call it „the skill to let it go”. When your task is to make people laugh, you can reach this goal only by connecting with the audience’s emotions. And it is extremely important, what vibe you pass to your audience, what they are really feeling while listening to you and watching you. If you are tense, if you think about what you are saying or what their reactions are, your audience will feel it. That is why, it is easier for people who just can let it go and have fun with their audience.
When I am going on the stage I often say to myself: you did what you could during the preparation, so you are the best prepared version of yourself. Now, it is time to have fun with your audience, to give them one hundred per cent of who you are and what you want to tell them. There is no place to think.
Jerry Seinfeld, one of the greatest American comedians, once said that writing anything humorous is painful, but… Being focused on your strengths will give you the right direction. Putting as many jokes as possible will improve your impact on the audience response. Finally, having fun on the stage instead of thinking will give you natural flow. So, there is still hope, that pain will pay off both for you and your audience.
Author: Marcin Kruk, Lublin Toastmasters, www.marcinkrukmusic.pl