This 70-year-old, 6′ 2″ former Miss North Carolina has been spreading her hilarious brand of southern humor for decades at sold-out venues throughout the world. However, you may have recently discovered Jeanne from her comedy segments on Sirius Radio or one of her YouTube videos. She has more than 20 million views.
The epitome of grace, Jeanne clearly lives her life joyfully on purpose. She was our guest speaker at Saturday’s meeting of the Georgia chapter of the National Speakers Association. My fellow board members and I shared dinner with her the night before.
Through her presentation, “More Funny, More Money,” Jeanne explained how professional speakers can add more humor to talks that will further engage and endear us to our audiences. With a generous spirit and no hint of ego that sometimes comes with excelling in this profession, she showed us how to take people along with us in our stories through our facial expressions, by how we move around the stage, and through the key words we emphasize. When embellishing our true stories, she said, it’s always funnier to give someone else the punch line. Brilliant!
To find the humor in everyday life, Jeanne recommends keeping a journal of observations that can turn into entertaining and often thought-provoking material. At our meeting, she flipped through her notes and tried out some of her fresh material for our feedback. That got me thinking. Since we tend to focus on what’s going wrong, I often recommend keeping a gratitude journal to remind us of all the good in our lives. Humor journaling takes it one step further. And you don’t have to be a professional speaker to appreciate its value.
Think about the funny things your kids say, that odd interaction at the supermarket last week, a bumper sticker you noticed on your commute, or something amusing that happened at work today. By making note of everyday humor, you can use it in stories with a friend at lunch or when you make professional presentations to cleverly illustrate a point or simply for your own pleasure.
Humorous stories increase connection, make you more memorable, and often help reduce stress as we laugh at ourselves, with others and about life. May you have many reasons to smile–until your cheeks hurt!