How To Use Humor In A Speech: Jennifer B. Kahnweiler with Ken Futch

What You Say In A Speech: An Interview With Ken Futch
by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength

Kahnweiler: Where can we find “juicy” material for our own stories?

Futch: The best source of humor is your own eye. Start by being aware of what you think is funny. Then begin to look for it, share it, and retell it verbally or in writing.  I will ask taxi drivers, for instance, “What is the funniest thing that you’ve seen or heard in your job?”

Kahnweiler: You have said that we should show our flaws. Doesn’t that make us lose credibility with audiences?

Futch. During a presentation we want the audience to be saying, “Me too!” not “So what?” More people will identify with our failures than with our successes. We should avoid making ourselves the hero in our stories. By demonstrating a willingness to show our warts, we provide a blend of humility and self-confidence, which actually endears us to audiences.

Kahnweiler:You are a master of the pause. Why is pausing so important?

Futch: Pauses are perhaps the most under-utilized delivery technique. They present a rich opportunity to connect with the listener and add drama to our message. The power comes from allowing the listener to anticipate what’s coming next, and it stimulates their mental involvement.

Also, a pause can completely change the meaning of what is being said. For example, “Look at the road ahead.” Versus, “Look at the road…a head.”

Kahnweiler: I have found that introverted leaders practice extensively before their presentations. What are 3 tips for getting maximum value out of this practice time?

Futch:
One.  Focus on your opening and closing. The two times of greatest  attention are at the beginning and end of your talk. At the start, people are forming opinions about you and your message. At the conclusion, you can seal the deal on your main points.

Two.  Write out your speech. Also, practice by glancing at your notes when needed. Reduce your written speech to keywords that are memory joggers. This process lets you reduce a long presentation to a few keywords.

Three.  Practice aloud, and always stand up. It is ideal to practice in the room where your presentation will take place. This can add to your comfort level.

Ken Futch, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional) is a well-known keynote speaker and former AT&T sales trainer who speaks about turning situations into opportunities. He is the author of Take Your Best Shot; how he found humor in the potentially tragic story of shooting himself in the head.

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D. is author of The Introverted Leader:Building On Your Quiet Strength.
Here’s a link.

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