By keLLy SWAnSon
ust as a car with stan-
dard options isn’t nearly
as cool as the fully loaded
one, a speech with just the
basics isn’t nearly as fun as
the one with add-ons. Adding
accessories, like stories and humor,
can take the speech from “all we can
afford” to “we’ve got to have this.”
But this can be harder than it looks.
Here’s how to make it easier to find
Stop trying to write a funny story.
I don’t start the process by looking for
a funny story. I look at how to make
the story I have funnier. I haven’t found
a story yet that didn’t have opportunities for humor.
For example, no matter what your
content, there is a funny story hidden
behind what happens if someone doesn’t
follow your advice. Let’s say you’re a
financial planner giving speeches on
how to prepare for retirement. (Yawn.)
Start by sharing 10 signs someone isn’t
good with money. The more you exaggerate, the funnier it will be.
It starts with an idea.
I bought a pair of sequined palazzo
pants to wear to an important event.
Pause to explain to straight men that
palazzo pants are the current version of
bellbottoms. (If you’re unfamiliar with
bellbottoms, think of pantaloons.) Now,
pause for you to picture me in sequined
pants. Now, pause for you to claw at
your eyes, try to get that image out of
your head, and then phone a post-trau-matic stress disorder (PTSD) counselor.
Anyway, I ordered the pants by
mail, and when they arrived, I tried
them on. I looked fabulous. But when
I took a step, my thighs squished the
sequins together in this horrible grinding sound. It was awful. End of story.
Not that funny, right? But I knew
I could make it funnier. While I was
super bummed about the pants and
blamed it on water retention, my funny
radar went off. I knew I had the makings of a funny story. Embarrassing
moments are always great places
Test the idea on your friends.
Don’t tell your friends you have a story
idea. Don’t try to make them laugh.
Just tell them what happened and see
how they react.
I told my family about the pants
while we were gathered at the beach
and the liquor was flowing. I sat back
and let them go. And go they did. My
aunt acted out how I should walk with
my thighs apart, and that became the
funniest piece of the story. I told my
speaker friends about it. One made a
crunching sound to mimic me walking
through the event. Another said she
would follow me to pick up the sequins
that were popping off. More funny
moments added to my story.
I could tell by the laughter I was
getting that I had the makings for a
successfully funny story. How funny?
It didn’t matter. I knew I could make
it even funnier. You’ll see.
How to write
a story that