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Punch Word + Misdirect = Trigger Laughter!

It is a great feeling when you find the optimum punch words, sentence structure, and comedic timing to trigger explosive laughter in your audience! Surprise (e.g. misdirection) is the most common reason people laugh. Punch words reveal the surprise.

Punch words are important because the pause you provide after the trigger words gives the audience time to identify the misdirection and they subsequently laugh.

An effective sentence structure leads the audience to conjure up an image in their minds. The punch word reveals the surprise image, and they spontaneously laugh.  The sentence structure, cadence, and timing provide them time to create that image…before you misdirect.

Cadence and sentence structure refer to the development of a sense of rhythm and pace to enhance the audience development of visual images.

There are a couple of benefits to changing your cadence and sentence structure. First, it can minimize the potential of “stepping” on the audience’s laughter. Second, it can help you go from getting no audience response to getting a chuckle or a belly-laugh.

Let us explore this with a four-minute overview video followed by a quick example.

In the example portion, note the rhythm and intonation I use in the final sentence to build towards the climax…followed by the punch word/trigger word…followed by laughter. Watch the faces in the audience and look for the sudden “ah-ha” moment as they realize the twist.


This is a series of blog articles and brief videos on “Finding the Funny – Learn the Step-By-Step-Process to Develop and Deliver Humor & Funny Stories & Incorporate into Serious Content.” The blogs are excerpts from my e-learning course (see link on right) which includes:

  • Over 16 lessons
  • Over 8 hours of video instruction
  • Activities and quizzes to complement each lesson
  • Downloadable worksheets and templates
  • 12 month access to course updates and additions

Please feel free to share with professional speakers, public speakers, trainers…anyone who stands in front of audiences who wants to make them laugh or bring some lightheartedness into serious content. Help me out by “liking,” “subscribing.” and “sharing” on the various social media platforms. To help me out, please make sure you “subscribe” (right-hand column) so you do not miss any of these weekly blog articles. Please feel free to comment on this blog-site and on social-media sites, and share with those who will benefit from them.

Copyright © MMXX by David R. Hill