If you are going to a holiday party or a networking event and you want a quick way to break the ice with new or old friends, have a little humor in your hip pocket. Even if you need to give a serious presentation, laughter will help you quickly grab the audience’s attention.
But where can you find good, clean humor appropriate for a business or professional audience? Everywhere! If you’ve stopped at a red light, I’m sure you’ve read a bumper sticker that made you laugh out loud (LOL).
Veteran Toastmaster International speaker Karl Righter listed 12 sources of funny material in his book, “How to Win Your Audience with Bombproof Humor”. Four great suggestions Karl mentioned were to:
1. Be observant – If you know you have a speech or presentation coming up soon, start a humor journal. Write down everything that makes you laugh. You’ll come up with authentic, believable and original humor. The best humor comes from your own personal experiences. And every parent knows that their kids are a walking comedy gold mine. I once opened a Toastmasters speech by recalling the time my six-year-old daughter slept on Silly Putty and we couldn’t get it out of her hair! The punch line—and the truth—was that she cut the sticky putty-filled hair out and left a two-inch bald spot on the left side of her head!
2. Surf the Internet – You can Google “business humor” to find jokes or visit websites such as: www.comics.com, www.comedy.com, www.humorpower.com.
3. Watch TV Comedians – Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Arsenio Hall, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Steve Harvey bring humor into our homes (or computer screen or mobile device) every day and night. Local, state, national, and international news stories are often dripping with easy-to-spot humor that television talk show hosts love to exploit.
4. Read cards, bumper stickers, T-shirts – Greeting cards, bumper stickers and T-shirts are also reliable sources of funny material you can use to establish a good rapport with an audience of one or many.
When you find a great joke or funny story, don’t forget to personalize it to fit your style and your audience. And please keep it tasteful—even if you’re cracking a joke about Rob Ford, the Canadian crack-smoking mayor of Toronto!