Does every speech need HUMOR – I would say YES.
Humor connects us – it is the bridge that bonds us all in our foibles and humanity.
We cannot be angry, defensive or sad when we are laughing – YES, humor helps.
I am not suggesting you use a tired OLD JOKE that your audience has heard before and rolls their eyes at, but rather your unique point of view on your subject.
Look at how Jerry Seinfeld used humor – it was never political, religious, dirty or offensive – it was just an amusing take on life’s adventures and clever observations about our common human challenges and experiences.
I am Australian – so I can joke about my accent, my heritage, my age and if I am speaking out of California – I can definitely joke about others perceptions of how touchy, feely and green we all are.
Below is a wonderful example of someone using humor “The Art of Innovation” Guy Kawasaki -TEDxBerkeley.
Guy lights up his speech and makes him a very sought after, and highly paid speaker.
Of course, he has the knowledge, expertise and best selling books to back up his claim to fame.
I find him charming and engaging. There is a lot to learn by watching him in action.
Note, his humor is self – deprecating which never offends anyone, but we feel connected to him in his failures and successes.