General

Humour depends on the audience

I usually caution people to use humour very carefully when they are speaking with groups because what may seem funny to you can be highly offensive to some other people.  It can be extremely dangerous territory.  I like to confine my humour to one-liners that seem amusing in the current circumstances.  I don’t usually plan them; they just emerge.  And if they don’t emerge, I don’t worry about it.  After all, humour is a nice-to-have, not a must-have.  The only must-have is value of the information in the presentation.
That said, I came across this guy who graphically illustrates the use of humour and the importance of knowing one’s audience.  He won a Toastmasters International competition for humour and he went to the trouble of documenting how he structured his presentation.  It’s interesting reading for any aspiring speaker.  Check it out at http://mannerofspeaking.wordpress.com/2009/11/29/anatomy-of-a-humorous-speech.  He’ll refer you to another site to view the presentation on Youtube.  After you click the link, scroll down a bit and you’ll come to the video.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.