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Humor Placement

You are probably wondering where to put all the funny material you have gathered into your presentation. 

Most people in the audience will expect you to start off your presentation with a story or joke. Because of this, you might want to postpone your story until the audience has resigned itself to being put to sleep and then you can surprise them your witty humor. A good rule to remember from your public speaking training is "Don't be afraid to do the unexpected." Humor is one of the best attention getting devices that can take your audience to the peaks of intensity.

In order to start figuring out where to place your humorous material, you first need to find out how long your presentation time slot will be. Once you have this information, divide that time into equal segments. If the percentage of humorous material is going to be low, you might make a funny comment every six to eight minutes. If the percentage of humor is very high, you might be making a funny comment every minute. Going through this process tells you roughly how much humor or other attention gaining devices you will need. Planning ahead and doing extensive research for each presentation is taught in my public speaking training.

I'm assuming by now that all the humorous material you have selected is totally relevant to your audience and the topic your speaking on. If it is not, throw it out now and start searching for something to replace it with that is relevant to your program. You must have fresh humor for every audience, not canned humor, or canned speeches.

Next, you should be ready to place the humor in your program. Don't make the mistake of forcing humor and other material to fit into a presentation, always choose relevant humor. It makes no difference if one segment goes several minutes longer than another or if you don't hit the funny bone exactly every six to eight minutes. Just use that time length as a guideline. All you have to do now is decide if you want humor in your opening and/or closing.

Finally, you will need to learn that the aspect of timing has to do with 'planned spontaneity.' When it comes to professional speeches, preparation will be a big factor in how you will succeed. Prepared remarks that appear spontaneous to the audience deserve a mention when talking about timing. During the course of a presentation, windows of opportunity for witty remarks open and close. They are usually related
to 'expected/unexpected' happenings during the presentation, or questions from the audience. Let's say you are writing on the flipchart and your marker runs out of ink. Your window of opportunity is now open. You might jump through the window and say, 'I guess I've come to the dry part of my presentation' Window closes. Everything is fine. You look like a quick wit and a pretty good NO ZZZZZs presenter, all of this is part of what you will learn in my public speaking training.

What if you waited until you searched out a new marker to say the same line? The opportunity is already lost, the spontaneity is gone and so is the impact. 

Most situations that could happen during a presentation can be anticipated. If you are using a slide projector, the bulb might blow. You may be interrupted by a loud noise. Your microphone might squeal, etc. Prepare comments in advance so you can
recall them immediately when needed. If you let too much time pass between the incident and your comment, you're better off foregoing the comment. It's too late to make it funny now, so just move on in your program.

Questions (see Funny Question and Answer Sessions article) from the audience can be treated the same way. Dealing with awkward questions with humor should be practiced in your public speaking training. If you've been presenting your material long enough, you can probably anticipate most of the questions that will be asked. Prepare a witty answer to each question and use it when the question arises.
Then go on and give your serious answer. Remember to be careful when using this technique so your witty answer doesn't make the person asking the question feel stupid.


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