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Public Speaking Course:

Get 'em in Fun

In my public speaking course, we learn about how Sigmund Freud made some interesting discoveries about people that are having fun.

He wrote:

"The most favorable condition for comic pleasure is a generally happy disposition in which one is in the mood for laughter. In these happy states almost everything seems funny to us. We laugh at the expectation of laughing, at the appearance of the person presenting the comic material (sometimes even before he [she] even begins), and finally, we laugh at the recollection of having laughed."

This idea has been termed '"In fun" by people that study humorous behavior in people. If you want your audience to laugh, they must be "in fun". You, as the presenter, must be "in fun". The emcee or program coordinator must also be "in fun". The entire speaking engagement should be designed to be "in fun".

Don't do anything to take your audience out of  being "in fun". Try not to speak about controversial subjects like religion or politics and don't make any unfriendly comments to 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, a member of the Retired National Speakers Association and one of the greatest humorists of all time, told me about a friend of his who was an excellent public speaker, but lost 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 against him.

An "in fun" audience is more critical for the presenter who is there to entertain, but the concept 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, DON'T start right in with your funny material. 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.

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