In the delightful Broadway musical “Singing in the Rain”, there is a song called “Make em Laugh” which is based on this idea that the best way for any stage performer to build a bond with an audience is to use humor to bring a smile, or a laugh, to that audience. Well, that idea is not just valid for stage performers. It’s just as true when you begin to develop your style as a public speaker.⠀

If you pick up any self help guide to how to be effective as a public speaker, one of the golden rules is to open with a joke. But guess what? That is not actually a hard and fast rule. Humor is the type of thing that works just as well about a minute into your presentation, halfway through or just about anywhere that you feel you are losing your audience.⠀

Audience psychology is a funny thing but not in the “laughter” sense. The truth is that when you first begin to speak to an audience, they are probably listening to you. Most people are at least curious about you and what you have to say and will take interest in you if for no other reason than you are a new person up there in front of them. While there is certainly not a bad idea to open with humor, the time your audience needs a joke is when you have launched into your discussion and you look out to nodding heads or drifting eyes and you know that you are talking but nobody is listening. That is when humor brings the audience back to you and hooks them back into your presentation.⠀

The biggest problem with a lot of public speaking situations is that you may be presenting ideas to the crowd.⠀
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