Weaving humour into a speech can be a real challenge.
In a earlier post I recommended that speakers avoid using jokes in favour of self-deprecating stories. Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Jan Jack of PerfectVerse who used to be a corporate secretary but is now a professional speech writer, speaker and comedian.
Jan specialises in writing humorous poems for special events and corporate speeches. During our conversation she told me how she had been hired by the CEO of a multinational company to help him make his conference speech more entertaining and amusing as he was by nature a serious chap and not known for his sense of humour.
Jan asked him to send her the draft of the speech and then she re-worked it to bring in some humour whilst
maintaining the core messages and intention. The original was by all accounts pretty dull, as are so many corporate presentations, and so wasn’t very easy on the ear. “I re-wrote it from the listeners’ point of view” said Jan and proceeded to give me some before and after examples.
With her permission I have reprinted one of her examples here:
With regard to the speech we discussed, I put in analogies; when the gentleman was talking about a company I compared it to a marriage. Not hugely funny but it made the speech more down to earth for those listening. One example of this:
1. The original speech said. “I would now like to give some facts about a stressful incident that has happened in my working life”
I changed it to this “”Let me now move to my third point, I want to share with you an exceptionally stressful incident that happened at xxxxx. Can I say here I am a man who is used to stress. My wife. (pause ) She has a credit card (pause and look away, then look back.) In my name.”
By all accounts the speech went down well and the audience’s perception of their new MD was much enhanced.
We don’t all have the budget to hire a professional speech writer when we want to be funny but we can learn from Jan’s example and write our speeches to be easy on the listener’s ear.
And as an extra bonus here is an example of humour from one of Jan’s bespoke business poems.
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Do all your days seem far too busy?
Does your Things to To list reach the floor, and make you feel dizzy?
Do you need an extra pair of hands for all your personal tasks?
Out of Office can help you, and you only have to ask.
I can choose and write your Christmas cards; I’ll act as your PA,
Help with travel, collect dry cleaning, even order that bouquet,
I can source a special venue; I can shop for you online,
I can even sort out personal gifts, if you don’t have the time.
I’m trustworthy, discreet; a real bonus in your life,
You’ll find you can rely on me; your perfect office wife,
But although I’ll give you perfect days; be there to make things right,
Remember – I’m your OFFICE wife; I won’t be there at night!
©Jan Jack’s Perfect Verse 2010
Hows that for a bit of humour!