Monday, April 21, 2008

Laughter: The Community Builder for Business Speakers

by TJ Walker

Media Training Worldwide

(editor's note: Could ineffective speaking skills be holding you back from getting more clients and making more money? Check out 5 Ways to Dramatically Improve your business at:

Telling “jokes” is usually a bad idea for most speakers, but getting laughs is great for any presenter. Isn’t this contradictory?

The problem with jokes is that they seemed forced and they scream out to the audience “Hey, I’m trying to be funny, so you’d better laugh now!!!” And nobody likes to be told to laugh on demand.

But a speaker can get generate lots of laughs without ever telling a joke. The key to humor is simply being able to pounce quickly on the absurdity of any situation. And if you can poke fun at yourself you are in great shape.

Quickness, spontaneity and self-deprecation are really all you need to get laughs. If you can incorporate these three traits into stories that relate to your audience, you will get laughs regularly from your audiences.

But why is getting laughs important for a speaker, especially if you aren’t a comedian and you’re a talking in a business setting?

Because when your audience laughs with you or at something you said, they are laughing as a group. They are communicating collectively with you and each other. Laughter becomes a common, shared experience.

Simply listening to you in silence is closer to a solitary experience. When audiences laugh, they often stop the speaker (this is good thing if you are the speaker).

Audiences stop and look at fellow audience members to see if they also find the moment humorous and to reaffirm to teach other their good judgment and insight at figuring out that something was funny. Audience members like to give each other glances to share a moment where everyone is “in the know.”

When your audience laughs with you, they are communicating with you. Part of the communication is that they liked something you said or did. And part of the communication is simply that audience member saying, “Hey, I’m listening to you. And since veryone else is laughing, they must be listening to you to. So you must be OK”

So if you aren’t getting occasional laughs from your audiences, don’t panic, and don’t run to the library to check out Milton Berle’s joke book compilation. Instead, loosen up, quicken up, and look for opportunities to have fun, and make fun of yourself.

TJ Walker is the worlds leading speaking coach, author of "Presentation Training A-Z." and "Media Training A-Z." Find out more about doing the one thing that will REALLY cause you to stand out in a crowd- IMPROVING YOUR SPEAKING SKILLS.

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