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Using Jokes in Public Speaking

Updated on February 4, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Why Use Jokes?

One of the important skills in public speaking is to learn to set your audience at ease and form a rapport with them. A great way of doing this is through appropriate, funny jokes and anecdotes.

Public speaking is at the top of the list of thing that intimidate most people. Your hands sweat, your mouth feels like Death Valley, and your knees knock. Even though you knew the speech by heart a few moments ago, the words have been swept away in a torrent of adrenaline. Jokes? Who can think of jokes at a time like this?

You should. Having a good joke to interject into a moment of panic can ease you in to your speaking engagement and give the audience the feeling that you really do know what you are doing.

Public speaking can make anyone a nervous wreck!
Public speaking can make anyone a nervous wreck!

Using Appropriate Jokes and Humor

What is a good joke? How do you know that the joke you are using is going to go over the way you want it to? How can you choose good jokes for public speaking?

  • Maintain eye contact with your audience.
  • Smile
  • Change the tone of your voice
  • Make your jokes appropriate to your audience.
  • Practice telling them until you are good at it
  • Use one liners

Look at the jokes you are planning on using. Make sure there are no racial, ethnic, or gender slurs in it anywhere. This would be crass and not funny.

Use one liners to break up tension, handle something unexpected like a technical problem, or even deal with a heckler. One liners are funny statements that have lot of punch. For example, I once heard a visiting pastor say to the congregation, "My Boss sends His love to you all." It was a great way to start!

There are a number of websites that have good, clean jokes that you can use in your public speaking. Aha! Jokes has jokes that are separated by category and type. Another site to check is

Here are some career specific joke sites:

Web searching will provide many more jokes and humorous quotes. By using humor you can add a new depth and professionalism to your public speaking engagements.

Using Jokes in Public Speaking

Use Humor to Get the Attention Off Yourself

Using humor to get the attention off yourself is one way to help put both yourself and your audience at ease. Tell a humorous story that relates to the subject, something that has happened in your family, for example. If you mess up just go on. You will think more about it than your audience will.

With the technology of laptops and power point programs you can also use humorous visuals in your presentation. Check out sites like Youtube for funny, and appropriate videos, to enhance your speech. You may want to consider letting power point run a series of funny pictures set to music as people enter the conference room. This can be a good icebreaker and set a relaxed mood.

As you use these techniques more in your public speaking you will become more relaxed with them, and ultimately find your own speaking style.


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    • profile image

      Courageismight 6 years ago

      Humor and Jokes make lots of views and interesting videos that you and other people will want to watch again and again also good mentioning that some jokes are not appropriate for YouTube

    • profile image

      PianoMan Jeff 6 years ago

      As an entertainer, and musician, I often use , clean as possible, humor, often close to current topics, events, etc, and find it a good ice-breaker to an otherwise unknown audience. I always receive positive feedback from my listeners, and it makes the time go so much faster, not that I always want it to. I feel it makes my shows more relaxed, enjoyable and memorable.

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      helen pamatian 6 years ago

      what could be a specific speaking lesson where we could use jokes?

    • profile image

      Jeff_McRitchie 6 years ago

      Thanks for posting this. Humor can definitely make a speech more enjoyable -- for both the audience and the person giving the speech.

    • profile image

      rahman34 7 years ago

      betherickson 2 years ago

      Absolutely true. Putting a bit of humor in public speaking drives more attention to the audience and a helpful way of setting the mood especially a boring topic is discussed. Very nice hub.

    • profile image

      hazoor bux42 7 years ago

      Thanks for a good article. It is very important to be a good public speaker. This is a very important skill for a good career. I read a book by Hamilton. If you want to be good in speaking I advise you to read it.

    • profile image

      Panic 7 years ago

      This is one of the most powerful ways of not only getting and keeping your audience's attention, but making a connection with your audience so that the effects of fear don't creep into your mind and ruin your speech.

    • profile image

      selena 7 years ago

      thank you so marye......

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Great hub. I was looking for a hub such as this. I noticed local public speakers are telling more and more jokes and they always wake up the audience =). Wonder where they get those jokes?

    • kbdunn profile image

      kbdunn 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thank you for helping me out!

    • betherickson profile image

      betherickson 9 years ago from Minnesota

      Absolutely true. Putting a bit of humor in public speaking drives more attention to the audience and a helpful way of setting the mood especially a boring topic is discussed. Very nice hub.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 10 years ago

      this is a cute and useful hub. I love humor, most people do. It is a good thing to mix with public speaking. :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 10 years ago from Chennai

      All relevant useful points. All taken, thank you very much, Marye.

    • Blogger Mom profile image

      Blogger Mom 10 years ago from Northeast, US

      Thanks for sharing this...I used to be in accounting and those jokes are great! =)