2 more strategies for speakers and leaders!

Humor and hand

In the previous post we published, you learned the concept of the 5 H of inspiration to become a speaker able to giving a talk being truly inspirationaland specifically Head, Heart and Heavy Duty. Now it’s time to explore Humor and Hand!


Humor and inspiration are sometimes viewed as not compatible. However, when we laugh at something, we can immediately connect with the topic and the speaker. And this is needed to be inspired.

Especially if you want to inspire for change, this is vital. As Oscar Wilde said, maybe a bit drastically: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

Strategy: Find “Truth & Pain Moments”

This is not about jokes, and moments a la “two camels in the desert”. The key tip for appropriate business humor: point out the “truth & pain” in every situation that you are talking about in an exaggerated fashion.

One of the key things I try to do in my keynotes is to find current pain points or true situations in organizational life. Examples are long meetings, complexity, number of reports, lack of feedback, phone conferences: typical behaviors that everybody can recognise and finds a bit painful. I then try to show these in a self-deprecating fashion. See how David Grady puts this into action by talking about conference calls, another truth & pain area in companies.  And here an article on concrete strategies for business humor.

As a metric, I recommend to look at laughs per minute and push inspirational presenters to weave in –where appropriate– at least every 2-3 minutes some “truth & pain moments” that have humor potential.


This is an important one. In my view, to be truly inspired we need to know that it is possible to implement the change or the suggestions or whatever the speech topic is. This is about the feeling that while the topic might also be grand (see Heavy Duty) there is something that can be done and implemented.

Strategy: Talk about your “opus magnum” that shows that it is really possible

Ten years ago one person gave me a 4 out of 5 rating for my speech. It was a friendly acquaintance so I asked him what I could have done to get a “5”. He said: “Nothing”.

Looking at my embezzled face he elaborated: “Nothing on stage, that was all good. But to be inspired I need to have a sense of the overall life of the speaker, of the implementation, of the achievements and I could not see that from your speech. So I wasn’t sure if you’re only talking theory.”

That doesn’t mean that you need to have won 15 Academy awards or be World Champion. It means that your past speaks volumes that what you are talking about is feasible because you implemented it personally. You walk the talk.

That’s also one key criteria for selected TED(x) speakers: they should talk about what they know and what they have done. So weave in your concrete experiences and highlight the steps that you have taken.

Balancing the various elements

I recommend to use this 5 H concept as a checklist for your talks. There is not the one thing that makes all of your audience inspired. However, if you want to have an inspirational impact, make sure that you “tick” at least 4 of the above 5 Hs.

Do you want to know more? Register for the next course Lars Sudmann will hold in Brussels the 15th of April:


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