Public Speaking Training:
To Laugh or Not to Laugh . . .That is the Question
A lot of professional speaking 'experts' say that you shouldn't
laugh at your own jokes or stories when giving your presentation.
This may work for them, but it is definitely not what I like to do. I want to
have some fun with my audience. I'm there because I love humor and laughter and
I love sharing it with my audience. I teach the importance of laughter in my
public speaking training.
Sometimes I just can't help but to laugh. I laugh at what I say, what they
say, and I laugh at unexpected occurrences during the presentation. I believe
that to fully connect with an audience, you must be accepted as one of them. If
I expect them to laugh, then why wouldn't I laugh too?
Sometimes your laughter can be used to cue the audience that it's time to
laugh. Using what you learned from your public speaking training involves leading
your audience into laughter. Within a matter of minutes your public stage style
will be evident to the audience and they will catch onto your style and rhythm
and 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 using a deadpan
expression. This is a very serious expression that is contrasted with saying a
funny line. The contrast creates 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 from the audience.
When you are presenting don't be afraid to laugh when you feel like it. Both
you and your audience will enjoy the presentation more and have more fun. And
when both the audience and the speaker are enjoying the speech, then you are
seeing the beauty of what you learned in your public speaking training.