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Lightening the Speech: Give Us a Break…!

January 3, 2014


Have you ever considered accountancy as a career option?   It offers stable employment, a comfortable standard of living and, above all, it trains its members to become the world’s best… lovers!

This is of course no secret.  It has been known for two and a half thousand years, ever since Brahmin priests first published a book on love, the Kama Sutra.  There they advised that the secret to the art of love was to keep the woman happy.  And the best way to do that was for the man to count to 1000… and who better to do that… than an accountant?!

There are two main reasons why you should use humour in almost every speech – even one on accountancy.  Especially one on accountancy!  Your audience needs it.  And you need it.

First, your audience needs it.   Scientists have measured the human attention span at 49 minutes.  But that says nothing about the human enjoyment span.  In my experience, that is measured at around one, maximum two minutes.  We need a break, a laugh, an anecdote, virtually every paragraph – unless your speech is a sad or poignant one. Without the light relief, your speech runs the risk of becoming a lecture.  And you know the definition of a lecture: when the audience becomes anaesthetizised at both ends!

And you need it.  Humour transforms the speaker.  It makes you come alive – the eyes twinkle, the voice gets more vital, the face more expressive, the hands more activated, the body more mobile.  You become a more engaging speaker.  The audience will warm to you and your message will be communicated more effectively.

Think of Boris and Dave.  If you wanted to know anything about Tory party policy (why?!), who would you prefer to listen to?  Boris, who will entertain you, as well as inform you? Or Dave, who will anaesthetise you?

Love him or loathe him, Boris is a character.  The other day he strode into his office, looking full of himself and announced “I now have my own Boris bike!”, whereupon his secretary burst into tears, sobbing “I do have a name, you know!”

So try and inject some humour into (almost) every speech.  Your audience needs it.  And you need it.  Especially if you are an accountant!  By the way, do you know the main reason why someone decides to pursue a career as an accountant?   When they realise they don’t have the charisma to make it as an undertaker!


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