As a four-time vice president education, I have frequently been asked by newly minted CC’s: “Which manuals should I work on next?” I always recommend that they go through the Humorously Speaking manual – but not necessarily right away. In my opinion, that manual is the hardest of all of the Toastmasters Advanced Manuals, because it is the only one with an objective standard. If they don’t laugh, you weren’t funny.
That is actually good, though. It forces you to think about what you said and why you got the reaction that you did. Why didn’t they laugh? Was it because you set up the joke incorrectly? Was it because it was one of those “I guess you had to be there” jokes? Or was it just plain not funny? (I’ve certainly told a lot of those.)
If you put in the time to seriously answer those questions, you will improve. And you will get more laughs.
I have found that one of the best ways to improve your “funny bone” is to get around funny people. If there is a humor-oriented Toastmasters club in your vicinity, by all means, join it—and attend every meeting. In addition, become a student of humor. Understand the structure of jokes. There are proven techniques that you can apply.
But the most important way to learn humor is to do it. The Humorously Speaking manual is certainly a challenge. If you want to start a little slower, go for the Entertaining Speaker manual. (That’s what I did.) There your task is to make them smile. Then, when you have mastered that skill, roll up your sleeves and go for the laughs. By the time you finish the Humorously Speaking manual, you will be amazed at how much funnier you have become. And that is no joke.
Bill Brown, DTM is a speech delivery coach in Gillette, Wyoming. He is a member of Energy Capital Toastmasters in Gillette. Learn more at www.billbrownspeechcoach.com.