The art of making your audience laugh

The Art of Making Your Audience Laugh

As a public speaker, one of the most important skills you can possess is the ability to make your audience laugh. It's no secret that people are more likely to pay attention to speakers who can engage and entertain them, and humor is an incredibly effective way to do so. But how do you go about making people laugh in a way that feels natural, appropriate, and effective? In this article, we'll explore the art of making your audience laugh and offer some tips for how you can do it successfully.

Why Humor Matters in Public Speaking

Before we dive into the specifics of how to use humor as a public speaker, it's worth considering why it matters in the first place. There are a few different reasons why humor can be so effective:
  • It grabs people's attention: When you make a joke or tell a funny story, people are more likely to perk up and listen to what you're saying.
  • It makes you more memorable: People are more likely to remember a speaker who made them laugh than one who didn't.
  • It builds rapport: By making your audience laugh, you establish a connection with them and make them feel more comfortable with you as a speaker.
  • It relieves tension: Public speaking can be nerve-wracking for both the speaker and the audience. Humor can ease those nerves and create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Using Humor Effectively

Of course, it's not enough to simply tell a few jokes and hope for the best. Humor can be a tricky thing to get right in public speaking, as there's a fine line between being funny and being inappropriate or offensive. Here are a few tips for using humor effectively:
  • Know your audience: Different audiences will respond differently to different types of humor. Make sure you have a good sense of who you're speaking to and what kind of jokes or stories they might find funny.
  • Stay appropriate: It's essential to avoid making jokes that could be perceived as offensive or inappropriate. Humor should be used to add levity and energy to your speech, not to make anyone feel uncomfortable or disrespected.
  • Be natural: Don't force yourself to be funny. Use humor to highlight your natural personality and style of speaking, rather than trying to be something you're not.
  • Practice: Just like any other aspect of public speaking, using humor effectively takes practice. Test out your jokes with friends or colleagues before using them in front of an audience.

Types of Humor to Use

There are a few different types of humor that can be effective in public speaking. Here are a few examples:
  • Anecdotes: Telling a funny story from your own life or that of someone you know can be a great way to add humor to your speech. Just make sure the story is relevant to your topic and not too long-winded.
  • Puns: If you're comfortable with wordplay, throwing in a few puns can be a fun way to lighten the mood.
  • Observational humor: Making humorous observations about everyday life can be a relatable way to inject humor into your speech.
  • Sarcasm: Used sparingly and in the right context, sarcasm can be a powerful tool for getting a laugh from your audience.

When Not to Use Humor

While humor can be a great addition to a public speech, there are times when it's best to avoid it altogether. Here are a few scenarios where it's better to keep things serious:
  • When discussing sensitive topics: If you're addressing a serious or emotional topic such as death or illness, humor is likely to come across as insensitive.
  • When you're not comfortable with it: If you're not a natural comedian, trying to force yourself to be funny is likely to fall flat.
  • When it's not appropriate: If you're speaking in a professional context such as a business conference, you'll want to keep things more serious and to the point.


While using humor effectively in public speaking can be a challenge, it's also incredibly rewarding. By making your audience laugh, you'll not only keep their attention but also build a connection with them and leave a lasting impression. With practice and a bit of bravery, you can master the art of making your audience laugh and take your public speaking skills to the next level.