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Public Speaking Course: 

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 course. 

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 course 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 course.

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