As a humorous motivational speaker, I have experience delivering comedy. Here, I have witnessed first hand that when a joke fails- avoid the temptation to panic.
Panic shuts down our conscious system and takes us directly to our primal automatic stress reaction. In this state people say and do stupid things because they are literally not processing information. Instead they are reacting to one emotion: panic.
Delivering a motivational speech in panick mode usually means I will speed up my delivery, instead of pacing myself with the content and audience reaction.
People who have panic attacks experience time slowing down or speeding up because adrenaline warps how we perceive time.
There is a saying, "Comedy is tragedy plus time." In the midst of tragedy, the experience is never funny but it is after time passes that we are able to laugh at our misfortune. Timing when delivering comedy is critical. As a humorous motivational speaker, I love to experiment with the pregnant pause which is often funnier than the joke itself.
Timing creates suspence and gives the audience the chance to process the information. The greatest humorous motivational speakers are masters of delay, pausing builds up tension that adds to its release after delivering a punch line.
Pausing stretches out the moment and builds anticipation, so the punchline is so much funnier. I have seen expert motivational speakers panic in a motivational speech and in doing so speed up their delivery and wreck it's impact.
This is where over thinking gets in the way for a motivational speaker. The more you analyze your motivational speech, the more fear and panic can take hold. The more critical you become of your performance, the more you forget to trust yourself and your audience. As my mentor and exceptional motivational speaker Bill Clennan taught me, have as much fun as possible when you speak and the audience will too.