Obviously content and structure are important for uncovering humor. However, so is delivery. Here are 2 delivery tools you can use to make your speeches more humorous.
Humorous Delivery Tool #1: The Look before the Line
As you probably know, you should never add humor to a speech, you should uncover humor within it. It's already there. Where? It's in your story. More specifically it's in your characters' dialogue with each other. However, here's what can turn a chuckle into a full-blown laugh.
Many speakers spend so much time trying to create humorous content when, in reality, a change in delivery can make their already-existing content funny. Here's an example of The Look before the Line.
I have a story where I go to a KFC drive-through and place an order. I say the following:
I drove up to the intercom and the lady said, "Welcome to KFC, may I help you?" I said, "Yes, I would like to order three thighs." She said, "Small or large?" Right here is where I pause and look confused. Why? Think about it. If she said this to you, what would you be thinking? Well, whatever you are thinking, show it before you say it.
In this case, I was thinking, "What? Is there a difference in the sizes of chicken thighs?" The look I show on my face is what creates the humor at this point. Then, after I give the look, I say the following: And before I could even comprehend what she said I unfortunately blurted out, "Do you have large thighs?" Now, once I say this line and realize how crude of a question that can be, what do you think I was thinking? "Uh oh" is right! However, instead of saying "Uh oh," I show it with my face. So it's the look before the line and the look after the line that makes the line more humorous.
Unfortunately far too often speakers just give the lines. They give one line of dialogue and then the other character responds with another line of dialogue. The secret to the effectiveness of the dialogue is the look between those lines.
The Key to tool #1
The key to tool #1 is to always ask yourself, "What am I thinking or feeling after that line of dialogue?" Then, once you know the answer, show it on your face before you say it from your lips. And, if you are truly under the influence of your character's emotions, the look should automatically come.
Humorous Delivery Tool #2: Stop on a Dime
So much is said during a speech and it's easy for the audience to tune some of it out. However, delivery gives us a way to make sure some of our content jumps out to be remembered. This tool helps add to the twist we make in some of our content. For example, I used to say the following in my speeches:
Write down your perfect day. Everything I wrote down years ago has come to pass. I said I wanted to be a professional speaker; I'm a professional speaker. I said I wanted to own my own business; I own my own business. I said I wanted a white Mercedes Benz Convertible; I have a white Honda Accord...I'm getting there!"
In the past, the content itself carried the laugh. However, overtime I realized a delivery tool that can help. Anytime you have a twist in your content, you can use this tool. As I go through all the things I wrote down in my perfect day, I walk continously in one direction. Then, when I get to the twist in the content (i.e. White Honda Accord), I physically stop and look back in the direction from whence I just came. The physical stop along with the twist in content makes the twist more dramatic and more humorous. What was the result? The laughs got louder.
This Stop on a Dime tool works great with drama as well as humor. For example, I have a story where I go to visit a bookstore to try to find a lady who encouraged me many years beforehand. I say the following:
I walked out of my car just as I did years ago, walked up to the...
It's at that moment that I stop on a dime. Guess what my audience knows based on that delivery move? They know that the bookstore is gone. In fact, I can literally hear them say it as soon as I stop. It's not the content that tells them, it's the delivery. The Stop on a Dime tool is awesome for making the humorous more funny and the dramatic more heartfelt. Use it.
The Key to Using the Stop on a Dime Tool
Figure out what content you have that gives any kind of twist. Then, when you get to the twist part, physically stop as you give your twist line.
These tools will help you uncover the humor in your speeches.