“The secret to humor is surprise.”
One of the great benefits about being a member of Toastmasters is that you get to hear and learn from some great speeches. A couple of weeks ago I was at a Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest and was amazed at the quality and entertainment value of the speeches.
They taught me about storytelling humour and how to use it to deliver a message. The 5 lessons I have learned about Storytelling humour are.
1. Be Prepared
The best speeches of the night were obviously well prepared and left nothing to chance. The speaker knew their audience and anticipated where the audience would need a laughter pause. They paced the story well and built up to an amusing climax.
Key Take Away
Plan your humorous story well and know what your audience will expect from your story.
2. Stand-Up Comedians Need Not Apply
Logic would say that a professional standup comedian makes the best humorous storyteller. This is not true, it is the person who can tell a story while injecting a sense a fun into the story that captivates an audience.
While jokes have their place in storytelling it is the power of your storytelling that matters. Use humour to paint pictures and help us understand your characters.
3. Humour Is Very Subjective
Even the best speakers on the night slipped up in this area. We sometimes think that just because we find something witty or funny our audience will find it funny too. This is definitely not the case as a humour is a subjective matter.
Key Take Away
Test your funniest lines or stories on a range of other people before you commit them to a speech, blog or video. Learn from the feedback you get and remember all feedback has some merit.
4. Move On
Even with practice, audience testing and preparation your audience can fail to appreciate your humour. If this happens on a speech move quickly on to the next part of your story.
Being funny takes practice and experience and even then you can get it wrong.
5. Keep It Simple
Your audience needs to understand your story to laugh at it. Make sure you keep your story simple and credible.
Think about your audience and then pitch your story so even a child could understand it.
“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. “
Alexander Graham Bell
Humour is a subjective matter and will not always work, however when it does it has the power to move audiences and change the way we see the world. Storytelling humour works best when you think about what you want to say and who your audience will be. Being funny is an acquired skill that works best with practice and understanding the type of humour that suits you best.