Get 'em in Fun
Sigmund Freud had some great advice to add to what you learn in a
public speaking course.
"The most favorable condition for comic pleasure is a generally happy
disposition in which one is in the mood for laughter. In these happy states
almost everything seems humorous. We laugh at the expectation of laughing,
at the appearance of one who is presenting the comic material (sometimes
even before he [she] attempts to make us laugh), and finally, we laugh
at the recollection of having laughed."
This concept has been termed '"In fun" by people that study
the effects of humor. If you want your audience to laugh, they must
be in fun. You, the speaker, must be in fun. The emcee or program coordinator
must be in fun. The whole program should be designed in fun.
Don't do anything to take them out of in fun. Don't speak about
controversial subjects like religion or politics and don't make
unfriendly comments to audience members. If a problem occurs which must
be dealt with, find an in fun way of doing so. For instance, if I'm
a presentation and someone asks me who I voted for I say, "I
voted for the USA." That's a cute way to say that I really prefer
notto talk about it. Keeping in tune with your audience is part of using
your skills you learned in your public speaking course.
Retired National Speakers Association member and one of the greatest
humorists of all time Dr. Charles Jarvis, told me about a friend of
who was excellent at speaking, truly a master of great public speaking
skills, but lost his audience when he forced someone to turn off a tape
recorder. He was so nasty about the way he said it that the in fun audience
totally turned against him.
An "in fun" audience is more critical for the presenter who
there to entertain, but the concept should be in the back of every
speakers mind who seeks to practice what they learned in a public
speaking course. Your
material may be controversial by nature, but that doesn't mean that
should go out of your way to do or say things that will take the
audience further out of in fun.
Also, pay close attention to the total program. One friend of mine
to present comical material just after a passionate plea went out to
the audience to collect funds for starving babies. He came on stage
just after the teary-eyed audience had seen slides of emaciated
DON'T start right in with your humorous
material. Start out gently with a sincere reference to what the
audience has just seen. Cut most of your early speaking humor and get
to your subject to ease the audience's transition to your more
How do you put in fun into practice? One time I had a ventriloquist
introduce me at an early morning meeting to wake up everyone and get
them in fun. You could pass out fun snacks to the audience or put
balloons on their chairs. Public announcements and agendas can be
decorated with cartoon characters. using what you learned in
your public speaking course may involve using funny props as a great for putting people in fun. Do
anything you can to be sure your audience knows that it's OK to laugh.
Back to Articles