If you intend using humor in your talk to make people smile, you must know how to identify shared experiences and problems. Your humor must be relevant to the audience and should help to show them that you are one of them or that you understand their situation and are in sympathy with their point of view. Depending on whom you are addressing, the problems will be different. If you are talking to a group of managers, you may refer to the disorganized methods of their secretaries; alternatively if you are addressing secretaries, you may want to comment on their disorganized bosses.
Here is an example, which I heard at a nurses' convention, of a story which works well because the audience all shared the same view of doctors. A man arrives in heaven and is being shown around by St. Peter. He sees wonderful accommodations, beautiful gardens, sunny weather, and so on. Everyone is very peaceful, polite and friendly until, waiting in a line for lunch, the new arrival is suddenly pushed aside by a man in a white coat, who rushes to the head of the line, grabs his food and stomps over to a table by himself. "Who is that?" the new arrival asked St. Peter. "On, that's God," came the reply, "but sometimes he thinks he's a doctor."
If you are part of the group which you are addressing, you will be in a position to know the experiences and problems which are common to all of you and it'll be appropriate for you to make a passing remark about the inedible canteen food or the chairman's notorious bad taste in ties. With other audiences you mustn't attempt to cut in with humor as they will resent an outsider making disparaging remarks about their canteen or their chairman. You will be on safer ground if you stick to scapegoats like the Post Office or the telephone system.
If you feel awkward being humorous, you must practice so that it becomes more natural. Include a few casual and apparently off-the-cuff remarks which you can deliver in a relaxed and unforced manner. Often it's the delivery which causes the audience to smile, so speak slowly and remember that a raised eyebrow or an unbelieving look may help to show that you are making a light-hearted remark.
Look for the humor. It often comes from the unexpected. A twist on a familiar quote "If at first you don't succeed, give up" or a play on words or on a situation. Search for exaggeration and understatements. Look at your talk and pick out a few words or sentences which you can turn about and inject with humor.
1. To make your humor work, you should .
A. take advantage of different kinds of audience
B. make fun of the disorganized people
C. address different problems to different people
D. show sympathy for your listeners
2. The joke about doctors implies that, in the eyes of nurses, they are .
A. impolite to new arrivals
B. very conscious of their godlike role
C. entitled to some privileges
D. very busy even during lunch hours
3. It can be inferred from the text that public services .
A. have benefited many people
B. are the focus of public attention
C. are an inappropriate subject for humor
D. have often been the laughing stock
4. To achieve the desired result, humorous stories should be delivered .
A. in well-worded language
B. as awkwardly as possible
C. in exaggerated statements
D. as casually as possible
5. The best title for the text may be .
A. Use Humor Effectively
B. Various Kinds of Humor
C. Add Humor to Speech
D. Different Humor Strategies