Art of Public Speaking:
To Laugh or Not to Laugh . . .
That is the Question
Some humor 'experts' not so well versed in the fine art of public speaking say that you should not laugh at your own jokes and
stories when you are speaking in public.
This may work for some, but it is definitely not my style. When I'm in front of an audience, I'm having a great time, because that is
part of the art of public speaking. I'm there because I love humor and laughter and I love sharing it with the audience.
I can't help laughing sometimes. I laugh at what I say. I laugh at what they say. I laugh at unexpected occurrences during the
presentation. That's my style. I believe that to fully connect with an audience, you must be accepted as one of them. If I expect
them to laugh, then I should laugh too. It is key to the art of public speaking.
Sometimes you can laugh to tell the audience it's time to laugh. The art of public speaking involves leading your audience, even
leading them to laugh. Within a matter of minutes your public stage persona will be evident to the audience. As soon as they catch onto your
style and rhythm, they will pick up on the cues you give them. When you laugh, they know it is time for them to laugh. It's almost like
holding up an applause sign. Some presenters use facial
expressions or gestures or a combination of many cues that tell the audience it's OK
The opposite of a laughter cue is a deadpan expression. This is a serious expression that is contrasted with
amusing lines. The
contrast evokes a larger laugh than the line could get by itself. I use this to
set the audience up for some fun questions. I look completely earnest when I say, "I'm the foremost expert in the world [pause] on dumb
questions." It always gets a good laugh.
When speaking in public go ahead and laugh when you feel like it. Both you and your audience will enjoy the speech more. And when both
the audience and the speaker are enjoying the speech, then you are seeing the beauty in the
art of public speaking.
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