Add humor to your speakingThis past weekend I attended the National Speakers Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia. Talk about a room full of chatty, type As, the 1200+ person event had no shortage of big personalities, topic expertise and energy.

The convention chair was David Glickman, a fellow Florida speaker, who is a master of humor and built a name for himself writing and performing comedy and custom song parodies for corporations. So, needless to say, the event was packed with entertaining and educational experiences. Great job, David!

I learned a ton and was inspired by both the speakers who presented and the speakers I met. So, whether you speak professionally like I do, or speaking and presenting are an important part of your job, I hope you can apply some of the gems I took home.

Today’s blog (part 1) includes 12 tips focused on humor to help you be a better speaker and a few other random items from my trip. The balance will post next Wednesday.

How to add more humor to your presentations
1) Laughter is contagious and can have domino-effect.
When you get a laugh from your audience, tag it with another funny statement, facial gesture or physical movement. It’s a natural opportunity to build momentum with your audience because laughter is contagious and can have a domino-effect.

2) Research what’s funny with your audience before your speak.
Before you address a group find out what they think is funny in their industry or something funny that happened in advance of your talk. Building on this topic is usually a sure fire laugh.

3) Don’t over describe a humorous story.
This robs the audience from them filling in the blanks and using their imagination (see tip #8)

4) Self-deprecation is always good and do exaggerate your flaws.

5) Silence is powerful.
Don’t underestimate how a big pause of silence will help your point stick.

6) Use call backs.
A call back is when you get a laugh from something, a theme, a story, a phrase, and you repeat it again later in your talk.

7) Love every audience you address more than your pet.
This may not make you funnier, but it will make you a better speaker.

8) Before you give a presentation get in a peak zone, this means blood circulating and ample oxygen flowing by doing a physical activity like __________. I will let you fill in this blank.

9) Hangout with funny people, you will get funnier.
It pays to lighten up and be fun (Scott Christopher author of book The Levity-Effect). Here’s an interesting stat: 90% of employees said they will stay at a company if their boss is funny.

10) To make a point in a PowerPoint, don’t use the photo you have, use a really funny photo you find on Google.

11) Use goofy family photos in presentations too, they humanize the speaker and add humor, too.

12) Compare a photo of anyone (a co-worker, your boss, a client) with a famous person, this can be hysterical. My celebrity Heritage website has a database of over 4000 famous people to find funny matches for average Joe.

…To be continued! Watch for Part 2 for more tips.

Bonus – other random observations and lessons from my trip.

These days, an hour before flight time is not enough time to get through security and make a flight.
The past 5 times I’ve flown (non-holiday times) the airports have been jammed packed, all hours, all days. The $250 airline upgrade bought through a kiosk can prevent you from missing your flight. You speed through security in minutes, pass by thousands of other people and feel less stressed.

The Marriott in downtown Philadelphia does not make my top 1000 hotels I love list.
The food in their restaurant was consistency as disappointing.

If the airline can’t assign you a seat at check in, it’s very likely the plane is over booked.
If your schedule is flexible, once you get to the gate ask the attendant right away about giving your seat back. I ended up on the next flight out and got a free round trip ticket that I can use any time this next year. A nice perk for putting up with air travel.

Invest in an extra power supply for your phone. This device is critical for a road warrior.
Power plugs at busy airports are in short supply. This great device keeps you connected for hours after your phone dies.