Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.15 am* Get the first laugh fast to release tension, build rapport, and create likeability. Audiences want and need the speaker to release the tension that builds up before a speech begins. Making listeners laugh helps build a connection with them.

*Use humor in every speech. Humor serves to both inspire and entertain. It can even be appropriate during periods of mourning or tragedy, because laughter helps people heal.

* A speaker can get more laughs per minute with a sense of superiority, surprise, or release. Superiority-based humor often targets eccentrics or people who make bad decisions, and can range from gentle parody to scathing insults. Surprise-based humor may include such approaches as sheer absurdity or screwball comedy. Humor can also be used to release strong emotions. For example, sexual humor releases embarrassment.

* Remember to riff. Riffing is the use of clusters of jokes. The goal is to get a laugh, pause, then elaborate on the original humorous comment.

* Amplify humor with vocal, physical, and facial expressiveness. While silence is important in capturing laughter, exaggerated vocal variety, mannerisms, and other types of physicality can accelerate it.

* All humor should further the message. Speakers should avoid recycling jokes told by comedians, which rarely further the message of their speech.

* Pause and stay in character while the audience is laughing. While great comedians wait for laughter to subside, they remain in character without moving unless movement is part of the joke.

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