One Quick and Easy Humor Tool for Speakers

In Tokyo with Certified World Class Speaking Coach, Will Reed

A quick and easy way to uncover humor is to compare and contrast two stories, examples, statistics, methods, or pretty much anything else. I like this tool because the audience tends to laugh AND learn at the same time. You can use it for dramatic impact (like I do in many of my stories) or you can use it for humor. I call it the “Right vs. Ridiculous” process. Let’s look at two examples (in audio).

First let’s look at how you can use it for humor and then see how you can use it for dramatic impact.

Listen to this quick clip of me contrasting the way I get my in-person audiences to subscribe to my 52Speakingtips.com site.

Welcome back. Basically this comes down to describing the right way vs. the ridiculous way so that the ridiculous way seems even more ridiculous. You see, if I never demonstrated the right way (i.e. selling the result and putting the result before the resource) and I only mentioned the ridiculous way, it would not have been funny.

For example, if I started that module by saying, “Raise your hand if you’d like to receive 52 emails from me,” there would have been some confusion laughs and probably some nervous chatter. However, because I mentioned the right way first (putting the result before the resource), my audience understood just how ridiculous that second way (putting the resource before the result) really was.

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This is similar to the law of contrast in pricing that I mentioned in my Back of the Room Sales Home-Study Course. When you put two prices against each other, the higher price makes the lower price seem even lower. Let’s say I first mention that my program (with all the bonuses) is worth $397 but today you get it for $197. Well the $197 now seems lower than it would have had I not first mentioned the $397. The right vs. the ridiculous has the same effect. It makes the ridiculous seem even more ridiculous and that’s funny.

Contrasting for Dramatic Impact

Like I mentioned, contrasting and comparing can also work for drama or an escalation of conflict. Now, listen to this quick clip of how I put two numbers side by side for dramatic effect. This is a short section of a story of when I was hired to give a speech and how excited I was to finally get a nice payday.

Here’s the key to why the drama worked. It’s because I put the numbers right next to each other. I said, “She tucked into my jacket pocket a check for $3,500.” Then I immediately told them I gave the audience a “$150 speech” and you could hear their reaction.

If I never mentioned the $3,500, they would not have thought anything was wrong but, since I mentioned it, they could easily realize I blew the engagement badly.

Contrast is Critical

Quick secret: I believe in this side by side contrast so much that I reworked that sentence (“She tucked into my jacket pocket a check for $3,500”) many times just so I could place the actual dollar amount at the very end of the sentence. Why? This is so it would be closer to (and fresh in my audience’s mind) when I mentioned the $150. I want those two numbers as close together (time-wise) as I can get so that they’re essentially side by side for effect.

This just goes to show you that contrasting can be used for humor and drama. But let’s get back to humor.

Right vs. Ridiculous Formula

Your Turn for Right vs. Ridiculous Humor (3 steps)

Step 1: Think about a “right” process that you have.

Step 2:  What would be the wrong process that some people might use?

Step 3: Put them next to each other but make sure you mention the right way first.

I believe you’ll surprise yourself by how much humor you can uncover there. It’s quick and easy.

Bonus Humor Secret

You can also ask a “right” question and then follow it with a “ridiculous” question to uncover humor and keep your audience laughing. Here’s an example:

 

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Craig Valentine

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