In September, my local toastmaster club is running it's annual humorous speech contest and I am planning to enter. The problem is that I find writing humorous speeches a real challenge. I can often weave a bit of humour into a serious speech without too much difficulty but, for some reason, writing a deliberately humorous speech seems much harder.
Last year I entered the competition for the first time and wasn't very successful. I basically researched a load of numerous stories via the web and attempted to string them together into a speech. Whilst I did get a few laughs, the whole thing was disjointed and contrived.
I think the main reasons for this were:
A) The stories I used weren't mine
B) There wasn't a strong storyline linking these various anecdotes together in any logical way
C) I was trying too hard to be funny
When I went to the Division H competition (SE England) to see and hear the area winners I was enthralled with their skills. The winner, Chris Billington, gave a hilarious speech without a single joke. All he did was tell a story related to a student job he had as a life guard.
In his tale, he described, in delightful detail, the unusual and sometimes bizarre behaviours of men and women in a mixed swimming pool. You had to be there honest!
What I learned from him was:
A) Don't tell jokes, tell stories instead.
B) Tell your own stories rather than pulling them from the Internet. You will be much more convincing and congruent if you do
C) Don't be afraid to exaggerate. Some of the funniest comedians on the planet don't tell jokes yet they have us in stitches simply by exaggerating the things that real people do and say. So become an observer of people and look for things that make you smile.
D) keep a notebook handy and capture these little moments so that you can use them later in a speech. Don't rely on your memory.
So this year I have put together a humorous speech based on the above lessons. I have given it once already and it went down well. I did however get some really useful feedback that the beginning was a bit slow and so I am tightening it up so that I get hook the audience's attention and get them laughing from the start.
Wish me luck for our competition night on 21st September and I'll let you know how I get on. I might even post a video of the speech and let you give me feedback too.
Let your voice be heard!
The Presentation Doctor