Could This Style of Humour Be Damaging Your Credibility As A Speaker?

I often see this particular bit of advice thrown around a lot when it comes to being funny. It’s a pretty easy way to get a laugh, so I can see why it’s so popular – the problem is, that this particular advice can be very detrimental if you are a Speaker or Presenter. I feel that this style of humour has the potential to damage your credibility as a Speaker and should be avoided at all costs.  (Or if you must insist on using this style of humour, at least make sure you are very aware of the possible consequences.)

I’ve filmed this video to discuss it, and if you’d like to speed read instead – make sure you check out the transcription below this video.

Have fun!
Cheers Kate

Video Transcription:

Hello Kate Burr from here, and today I want to talk about one of the bits of advice I see out there a lot. It’s one of the tips on how to get a laugh from your audience if you’re a presenter or a speaker, which I don’t necessarily agree with. I think it can damage credibility a lot if you’re a speaker, so this is what I want to talk about today in this video.

So the big tip out there that I think could be very detrimental to a speaker or presenter is using self-deprecating humour. Now, self-deprecating humour, the way I describe that, is when you have a bit of a laugh at yourself, you bring yourself down a peg or two. The audience can then relate to you a lot easier. They don’t see you as scary or whatever, and then it’s a really good way to get a laugh.

Now I think at what cost? That’s what I want to ask you. At what costs are you getting that laugh? Because you’re taking yourself down a peg or two, you’re having a little bit of a dig at your own skill set, and sure they might know you and they might like you but are they going to trust you?

Instead what you want to do is remain at the level of authority that you’re at and use humour to bring people up to your level and to relate to them at your level, not coming down to their level because that reduces your authority and your credibility as a speaker.
The second reason why I don’t think it’s a great idea to be using self-deprecating humour was touched on in a wonderful show, a comedy show you may have seen on a Netflix special last year by a wonderful comedian called Hannah Gadsby. She talks a lot about that and how she used self-deprecating humour to build her whole career. And in there she quotes that it’s not humility, it’s humiliation, especially if you suffer from any sort of imposter syndrome. Using self-deprecating humour is going to be eroding your own self-confidence as well as trying to get a laugh at any cost. So I think that is getting into really dangerous territory if you start doing that. And I think that what you tell yourself is as important as what you tell the audience. So if you’re suffering from any type of imposter syndrome, self-deprecating humour is not going to help you get anywhere.

The third reason why self-deprecating humour is I don’t think a great idea is just the alternative is to just be unashamedly be yourself. With the trailblazers in the industry at the moment, people like Brene Brown who are talking about authenticity and vulnerability, that’s what people want to see. No longer are we seeing the cookie cutter approach where people are just going, this is how I think it needs to look. We want to see you. And if you are starting to pull yourself down and tear yourself apart with self-deprecating humour, we don’t get that experience as an audience member. So we want to see the real you. And the cool thing with humour is that all styles work.

The really cool thing with humour is that all styles work, right? So if you take famous comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Robin Williams, both incredibly successful in their career and the reason that they were, is because they are 100% being themselves. So if you have a look at the differences between the two, obviously ones alive and one is not, that’s not the main difference. But like if you think about Jerry Seinfeld is quite aloof, he’s quite laid back, he’s a little bit sarcastic, and he’s like, “yeah, I’ve got this.” Compared to somebody like Robin Williams who is all over the stage, he’s all crazy, and he’s doing accents, and he’s doing voiceovers, and he’s like up there, and he’s down there, and he’s over there. If Jerry Seinfeld tried to do a Robin Williams style humour, it’s not going to work for him because he’s not being himself. He’s not being authentic. So being yourself and being authentic is really the key to using humour successfully.

The other thing is rather than using self-deprecating humour; I like to use a style called Stealth Humour. So stealth humour is where you don’t think that you’re being funny, the audience doesn’t think that they’re listening to anything funny, but everyone’s having a laugh, everyone’s having a good time and everyone feels good.

So if you would like to find out a little bit more about Stealth Humour, I’ve got an upcoming webinar coming up called Funny On Purpose. You can join it in my free Facebook group, which is Funny On Purpose for Speakers, Leaders, Experts and Business Owners. There’ll be a link in that Facebook group and also on my website

Thank you very much for listening and have a think about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Are you using self-deprecating humour at the moment and does it have an impact on your confidence levels when you’re speaking to an audience? If so leave me a line. Drop me a line below in the comments or send me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts. That’s it for me today. Thank you. Bye Bye.

P.S. CLICK HERE to find out more about the free training webinar.


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