Writing to Be Funny Is No Laughing Matter

Tips to be a Confident SpeakerA couple of weeks ago, I signed up to participate in the “Fun, Focus & Festivals” workshop offered by our very own Johanna R. and the talented Susan Bertoia, speech and drama adjudicator from the Performing Arts Festival.

By signed up, I mean that I was going to deliver a humourous tale or speech.


Three days out, I was still waiting for my muse to strike gold. Turns out, crafting a speech to generate laughs is no laughing matter. It’s hard work.

Susan, during the workshop, asked the attending Toastmasters to describe a humourous speech. What was it?

I know what you are thinking and it was the answer we gave her — “Make people laugh.”

How does one do that? One-liners? Comedy routine? Both of which are not allowed in the upcoming humourous contest being held at Harmony Hall on Sept. 21.

I went home and did a bit of research to get to the heart of how to deliver a speech that tickles the audience’s funny bone.

I was a bit surprised at what I learned.

The Humourous Speech is “usually a serious speech with injected points of humour.” It is a personal story with a universal theme that everyone can relate to that is fused with humour.

Humour is a speech tool to help you communicate, to carry your message to the audience. It makes the heart of your message more memorable and effective. It creates a bond between you and the audience and can act as a transition during the emotional moments of your speech.

The Humourous Speech contest is a way for Toastmasters to practice including humour in their stories, which allows the audience to learn by demonstration.

Here are a few tips for preparing your next Humourous Speech:

Discovery in the Ordinary
There is material in our everyday lives. From vacations to interactions with our mothers in the grocery stores, there is funny fodder in everything we do.

Know Your End Goal
Our group had said “to be funny” but each of our stories had a different point, premise or idea that we left with the audience. Focus on what your story is trying to demonstrate or show. Know your end goal.

Share the Personal Dirt
Share your personal story. Sharing the awkward, vulnerable and not so great moments with your audience endears them to you. We all have moments we can relate to such as interactions with in-laws, the first time you dropped the f-bomb, etc. Share your experience.

Add the Sparkle
My husband says that every story I tell, there is 80% fact and 20% sparkle to it. Embellish a bit with exaggerated details. This takes the funny bits taken from reality and pushes them to the next level. Also, people like to focus on details and this gives them just a bit more to relish.

I’m still struggling with my speech — but I think it’s headed in a better direction now! At least now I know that the way to one’s funny bone is through your own heart. Who knew?

Ready to write a humourous speech — or at least a speech with a touch of humour? On September 21, our club will be holding the Humourous Speech and Table Topics contest at Harmony Hall at 7am. Sign up via Turbobase to be a contestant or in one of the roles!


And the Club 1248 Winners Are . . .

That moment when you see someone step up and shine.
That moment when the past year’s accomplishments pay off.
That moment when you watch someone take their skills to the next level.

Wednesday’s International Speech and Evaluation Contest was that moment.

I was impressed and in awe at the ability, courage and demonstrated skills of our club as members took the lectern to participate in the two contests.

Speech and Evaluation ContestWilliam B., who took first prize, and Michael W., a close second, participated in the International Speech Contest chaired by Weegee S. Both contestants will continue on to the Area finals (TBD). It is the only one that goes all the way to the International competition level – and where the World Champion of Public Speaking is decided!

In the Evaluations Contest chaired by the lovely Ria Q., Sandy W. (first), PJ R. (second), Sarah L and William B. delivered a two to three minute evaluation on Liam’s “Trump Card” test speech. It’s always interesting to see the personal observations and takeaways each evaluator has to offer.

As always, there were several key positions manned by the talented members of our club. Without their assistance, the contest would not have been a success: Katherine S., Johanna R. (Chief Judge), Bertha C. (ballot counter) Vimalasara M. (ballot counter), Patricia H. (Judge), Frank C. (Judge), Kate W. (Judge), Michael S. (Timer) and Larry B. (Timer).

Special thank you to those who filled the roles and congratulations to all those who participated!