Laughing Matters: Humor Strategies in Public Speaking

  •  Zhen Xu    


The ability to powerfully and persuasively impact the audience is an important part of one’s career and life. Humor in public speaking is an effective way to inform, persuade and connect with the audience. In this paper, I apply the framework of analyzing context in terms of three dimensions - physical, temporal and experiential, to study humor use in public speaking. The results of the analysis of ten speech samples show that in the selected public speeches, non-verbal elements play an important role in the humor practice based on the physical contextual dimension. The temporal contextual dimension is most widely utilized in humor design. Humor based on the experiential contextual dimension reaches higher level of efficiency. Humor that employs a combination of different contextual dimensions increases the value of the intended effects.

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