Using Humour in your Speech

Section: Words 2.2

Humour in Public Speaking Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Humour can be a powerful tool for public speakers, allowing them to engage their audience and enhance the impact of their message. It can add depth and colour to a presentation, making it more enjoyable and memorable for the audience. In this blog, we define humour, its importance, the types of humour to use in public speaking, and ways to deal with any potential issues.

Definition of humour

Humour is used to “provoke laughter and provide amusement”. It often involves a play on words, irony, exaggeration, or even self-deprecation. Humour helps reduce tension in the room and gives people something to laugh about during your presentation.

Benefits of using humour when public speaking

The benefits of using humour when public speaking are many.

Humour helps create a sense of connection between you and your audience. When you tell a joke or share an anecdote, you create a shared experience that can help build trust with your audience.

Humour can also help break down barriers between speaker and listener by providing some relief from the intensity of the topic being discussed.

Humour can make complex ideas more understandable by adding visual cues or making them easier to relate to.

Using humour when speaking can help create an enjoyable atmosphere that will keep people engaged throughout your talk.   


When preparing a speech that will include humour, preparation is key. Knowing who you’re speaking to will give you an idea of what kind of humour they’ll appreciate and any topics you should avoid. It’s also important to consider the context of the speech and its purpose. This will help you decide whether jokes or a more subtle approach is most appropriate. Brainstorming ideas for jokes or stories also gives you plenty of content to work with so that you don’t have to rely on improvisation during your delivery.


Once you’ve gone through the preparation stage, it’s time to focus on delivery. Speaking with confidence is essential for delivering humorous content effectively; if your delivery lacks conviction, it won’t have nearly as much impact as it could if you exuded confidence and enthusiasm when telling your jokes or stories. Timing your delivery appropriately is key; make sure each joke or story has enough time for its setup without dragging on too long before getting to the punchline. And finally, emphasizing certain words or expressions can add an extra layer of emphasis when telling a joke – this will help clarify points in case some members of your audience didn’t catch everything due to background noise or other distractions.  

Types of Humour to Use in Public Speaking

Self-Deprecating Humour: Self-deprecating humour is when you make jokes about yourself as a way of self-expression and entertaining your audience. It’s a great way to show humility, build rapport with your audience, and make lighthearted fun out of embarrassing situations.

Observational Humour: Observational humour is when you take something from everyday life that people usually overlook and make a joke out of it. This type of comedy often leads to laughter, since people relate to everyday experiences that many can relate to.

Wordplay and Puns: Wordplay refers to playing with words by making puns or jokes based on their meaning or sound. We can use this form of comedy in speeches or presentations as long as it isn’t too offensive or inappropriate for the occasion.

Pop Culture References: Pop culture references are always popular with audiences because they provide familiar topics that people enjoy discussing or joking about. Making references to popular movies, TV shows, songs, books, etc., can help keep your audience engaged in your message while providing accurate information in an entertaining manner.

Audience Participation: Audience participation is also an effective way to keep your audience engaged during a presentation or speech by asking questions, polling the crowd for opinions, or even having them participate in a game or activity related to the topic at hand. This will give everyone an opportunity to get involved and be part of the process, which will increase their interest level in what you have to say!

Dealing with Mishaps

The key to dealing with mishaps is to anticipate potential issues or misunderstandings before you begin speaking. Before getting up on the podium, take some time to think about which jokes might go over well with your audience and which ones may not land as well. You should also consider any cultural differences that may exist between you and your audience–for example, a joke about politics may fly with one crowd but bomb with another.

It’s important to acknowledge any mistakes made while delivering the joke or story. This allows you to move on without dwelling on what went wrong and risking further embarrassment. Instead of letting the moment pass without comment, apologise if necessary and explain why the joke didn’t work out as intended. Doing so shows that you are aware of the situation and willing to own up to it instead of trying to brush it off or ignore it.

After dealing with any mishaps during your speech, try not to dwell on them too much afterwards. It’s easy to become fixated on what went wrong, but this could lead you down a slippery slope where you start second-guessing every word uttered during your presentation. Instead, focus on all the positive aspects of your talk and leave any negative moments behind you as soon as possible so that they don’t cloud your judgment when preparing for future presentations.

In conclusion, humour is a powerful tool for public speakers that can help engage and entertain their audience and enhance their message’s impact. When used strategically, it can make a presentation more enjoyable, memorable, and impactful. However, it is important to understand how humour works, which type of humour to use, and how to handle any potential issues that may arise. With the right knowledge and preparation, humour can be used to significant effect in public speaking.

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