The Power of Three: A Sure-Fire Strategy to Add Humor to Your Speeches

The Power of Three: A Sure-Fire Strategy to Add Humor to Your Speeches

The Power of Three: A Sure-Fire Strategy to Add Humor to Your Speeches
By Tan Kwan Hong

Laughter is caused when a smile has an orgasm. Adding appropriate laughter and humor to your speeches will reduce the tension between you and your audience, allowing you to be perceived as intelligent, personable and approachable. Humor can even be used to cultivate trust between you and your audience!

Unfortunately, many people believe that the ability to be funny is a special talent endowed on a fortunate few; that humor is a talent one is born with, and either you have it, or you don't. This constitutes a limiting belief that prevents people from trying to be funny.

The good news is that humor can be learned! Here is a sure-fire strategy to add humor and laughter to your next presentation.

The Power of Three

The power of three is a powerful technique to set up a joke, leading to the punchline or punch-word. In this technique, the first two elements are 'ordinary', while the third element departs (or stands out) from the chain of logic set up by the first two elements, thereby creating laughter. This allows you to manage the expectations of the audience.

Example #1: "I like women who are pretty, sexy, and... divorced."

The first two elements - 'pretty' and 'sexy', sets the chain of logic. The audience would be expecting the third element to follow the same set up, and might expect words along the lines of 'cute', 'hot' or 'gorgeous' to make up the third element in this chain of logic. But 'divorced' departs from the chain of logic brought about by the first two elements, creates an element of surprise against the flow of logic, thereby creating laughter!

Example #2: "Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when President Carter loses his." - Ronald Reagan

Here is a brilliant example by a previous American president, who used this strategy to great effect! Notice how the third sentence greatly departs from the chain of logic set up by the first two sentences in this joke. This strategy can also bring about sarcasm (another strategy you can use to humor). In this case, Ronald Reagan cleverly criticised the President Carter by attributing his presidency as a contributing factor to the recession and depression.

Example #3: "The price of rice has gone up, the price of petrol has gone up, and my blood pressure has gone up."

Again, three clauses are presented in this joke. The first two clauses sets the chain of logic, and manages the expectation of the audience. The third clause departs from the chain of logic set up by the first two clauses, and amounted to something that the audience would not have expected (no one in the audience would have expected the speaker to comment anything about his blood pressure). This creates an element of surprise that caught the audience off-guard!


The Power of Three is a very versatile strategy that you can use to create humor in your speeches. Use it in your next speech to create laughter, and your audience will love you for it.

Kwan Hong helps professionals, business executives and youths gain rapid mastery in communication skills, personal peak performance and career growth. He has delivered impactful workshops and facilitated seminars in public speaking, communication skills, leadership, personal peak performance, entrepreneurship and business development. He has synthesized knowledge from 8 Degrees and Diplomas, from over 100 certifications and from 1000 books to bring his clients the best tips, tricks and techniques for personal success.

Till date, 120,000 participants from over 100 organizations and events have benefited from his speaking engagements.

Reach out to him at, or connect with him on LinkedIn at

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