HumorPalooza: How to add humor to any speech

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What You’ll Learn:: 

David Glickman, co-founder and chief writer for Funnier Speeches, has some encouragement for speechwriters who have watched with dread as their leader shambles to the podium and drones on for an hour.

You don’t have to be Steve Martin to insert a little humor into your speech. Your audience will love you for it (really). And you can master techniques that will draw an appreciative guffaw from most audiences.

Why bother when you’ve got a serious message to sell? Because it wins over audiences and makes your speaker come across as human.

In this session, you will:

  • Learn how to write the speech first—and then add humor
  • Learn different types of humor to add to speeches
  • Hear and see examples of how to make serious material funny
  • Find out why fake “Chicken Soup” and “Dummies” books are great ways to inject humor

Yes, it’s hard to write a funny speech. But it’s easy to write a serious speech and then spice it with humor later. Don’t panic if your ponderous exec or droning politician calls for you to write a joke. Do what you do best, and add the humor at the end.

Find out why “the more specific the humor, the more terrific the humor.” Sure, you could search up a few generic jokes off the Internet, Glickman says. But a-priest-and-a-rabbi-and-a-chicken-walked-into-a-bar jokes don’t resonate like customized humor that’s relevant to your audience and what you’ve written.

“Here’s the cool thing,” he says. “The customized humor doesn’t have to work as hard. It is perceived as funnier because it’s in the area that your audience is involved in.”

Learn why acronyms can be funny. It’s possible to turn your organization's name—or that of the name of a rival—into an acronym, but people love self-deprecating humor. It shows humility.

Find out how to use pop culture references from movies, television, music, advertisements and books. You may worry that the frame of reference for your executive (who tends to be middle aged or older) isn’t quite the same as your audience’s. The good news: Older references still resonate.

Learn to take baby steps in injecting humor into your writing. One guy who works in the nuclear industry told Glickman that in his line of work, humor isn’t allowed. (We, for one, are delighted to hear that.)

Glickman’s advice: Start with small steps. “Find the hardest thing to do in the nuclear industry and make it a ‘Dummies’ book or a ‘Chicken Soup’ book.”

Discover why fake law firm names are good for a chuckle. Even if they’re not hilarious to a general audience, they get a laugh when tailored to a specific crowd.

 “Laughter to an executive is a drug,” Glickman says. “And they’re going to keep coming back: ‘More. I need more. Write some more stuff like you just wrote for me.’”

Find out more here.

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Broadcast: 
March 2013
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Presenter bio: 

David Glickman, CSP, is the co-founder and chief writer for Funnier Speeches. As a writer who specializes in punching up speeches with humor, he has added funny material to speeches for over 100 clients. David has been featured in Rolling Stone Magazine and scores of other publications. He has been the opening act for The Beach Boys, Ellen DeGeneres, Ray Romano and many more. The majority of his appearances are for business events featuring his "Customized Corporate Comedy."