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Public Speaking Course:

How to Make a Point with Humor

An old public speaker once said that you should 'Tell em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. Then tell 'em what you told 'em.' This formula can be added to your speech when you want to make an important point. You tell 'em the point, illustrate the point, then tell 'em the point again. Be aware though that giving out information this way can often be boring and redundant if you don't spice it up a little. One way to do that is to use humor. Here's what I teach in my public speaking course.

  1. Make your point.
  2. Illustrate your point (in our example below we're using a funny
    two-liner, but you could use funny props, funny stories,
    serious stories, case studies, visuals, poetry etc.)
  3. Restate your point.

For example, here is the point  'The Importance of Communication.'

  1. First make your point. 
    You could say,  "Accuracy and clear communication is
    an important aspect of our everyday lives."
  2. Then illustrate this point. 
    In this example I will use a humorous two-liner.
    "It's like the student pilot who was asked over the radio to state his
    altitude and location. He said, 'I'm five feet nine and I'm in the left
    seat.'"
  3. Then restate your point.
    Say in a slightly different manner, "You can see how what we may think is clear communication could be interpreted incorrectly especially when people are under pressure."

When you use humor in a professional public setting . . . especially when you are speaking to a business audience, or any audience who is not specifically there for humor, make the humor reinforce your point and you will get a much better response. Knowing what to say and when to say it is a crucial tool when learning your skills in a public speaking course.

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