Public Speaking Course:
How to Make a Point with Humor
I know of an old public speaker who said
that you should 'Tell em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. Then
tell 'em what you told 'em.' You can add this formula to your speech when you want to make an
important point. You tell 'em the point, illustrate the
point, then tell 'em the point again. Giving information this way, however,
can sometimes be boring and redundant if you don't spice it up a little.
One way to do that is to use humor. Here's the formula used in my
public speaking course.
1. Make your point.
2. Illustrate your point (in our example below we're using a humorous
two-liner, but you could use props, humorous props, funny stories,
serious stories, case studies, etc.)
3. Restate your point.
Here's an example where your point is 'The Importance of Communication.'
1. First make your point. For example, accuracy and clear communication
an important part of our everyday lives.
2. Then illustrate this point. In this case use a humorous two-liner.
It's like the student pilot who was asked over the radio to state his
altitude and location. He said, 'I'm five feet nine and I'm in the left
3. Then restate your point in a slightly different manner by saying,
You can see how what we may think is clear communication could be
interpreted incorrectly especially when people are under pressure.
When you use humor in a prpfessional public setting . . . especially when you are
speaking to a business audience, or any audience who is not
specifically there for humor, make the humor reinforce your point and
you will get a much better response. Knowing what to say and when to
say it is a crucial tool when learning your skills in a public