Public Speaking Skills:
To Laugh or Not to Laugh . . .
That is the Question
Some humor 'experts' claiming to have good public speaking skills say
that you should not laugh at your own jokes and stories when your on
This may work for some, but it is definitely not my style. When
I'm in front of an audience, I want to have a great time, because that
part of being confident in your public speaking skills. 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
Sometimes you can laugh to tell the audience it's time to laugh. These
public speaking skills 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 to laugh.
The opposite of a laughter cue is a deadpan expression. This is a serious
expression that is contrasted with funny 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 your public speaking skills.
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