Public Speaking Course:
Get 'em in Fun
In my public speaking course, I talk about how Sigmund Freud made an
interesting discovery about how people act to having fun.
"The best condition for comic pleasure is a generally happy disposition in
which a person is in the mood for laughter. In this happy state pf mind almost
everything seems funny to us. People will laugh at the expectation of laughing,
at the appearance of the person giving the comic material (sometimes even before
he [she] even begins), and finally, we laugh at the recollection of having
This concept has been termed '"In fun" by scientists that study
humorous behavior in people. If you want your audience to laugh, they must be
"in fun". You, as the speaker, must be "in fun". The emcee
or program coordinator must also be "in fun". The entire presentation
should be designed to be "in fun".
Make sure you don't do anything to take your audience out of being
"in fun". Do not speak about any controversial subjects like religion
and politics. Also don't make any unfriendly comments towards the audience
members. If a problem occurs which must be dealt with, find an "in
fun" way of doing so. Keeping in tune with your audience is a part what you
will learn in your public speaking course.
Dr. Charles Jarvis is a member of the Retired National Speakers Association
and one of the greatest humorists of all time. He recalled a story about a
friend of his who was an great public speaker, but turned off his audience when
he made someone turn off a tape recorder. He was so mean about the way he
treated the person that the "in fun" audience completely turned
An "in fun" audience is more important for the presenter who is
there only to entertain. But the concept of being "in fun" should be
in the back of every speakers mind who seeks to practice what they learned in my
public speaking course. Your material may be controversial by nature, but that
doesn't mean that you should go out of your way to do or say things that will
take the audience further out of "in fun".
Also, pay close attention to the entire program. One friend of mine had to
present funny material just after a passionate plea went out to the audience to
collect funds for starving babies. He came on stage
just after the teary-eyed audience had seen slides of emaciated children.
In this type of situation, DO NOT begin with any funny material. Instead, start
out gently with a sincere reference to what the audience has just experienced.
Skip most of your early speaking humor and get right to your subject to ease the
audience's transition to your more lighthearted topic.
How do you get the audience "in fun"? One time I had a
ventriloquist introduce me at a morning meeting to wake up everyone and get them
"in fun". You could pass out fun snacks to the audience or put
balloons on their chairs. Public announcements and agendas can be decorated with
cartoon characters. In my public speaking course will learn how to involve
the audience and get them "in fun" by using funny props. Do anything
you can to be sure your audience knows that it's OK to laugh.