Everyone loves that one person who gives off the cuff remarks and makes everyone laugh. Can you learn the art of witty banter? It doesn’t hurt to try!
Some people are born naturally witty. They can have conversations which ebb and flow with ease, throwing in humorous remarks, and having their audience giggling and laughing without seeming to try too hard. These people are rare. Most of us have to work hard at witty banter. When it doesn’t come naturally, it’s quite difficult!
Forced wittiness isn’t actually comfortable to be around. Surely you’ve been in a conversation with someone who is trying so hard to be funny and witty, but it’s all just coming over as a little too try-hard. As a result, you’re left cringing. This is not the result you want.
If you want to be a pro at witty banter, you need to practice, and most importantly, work on your confidence, so that easy conversation flies off the tongue without second guessing. Impulse and on the spot remarks make up the very core of witty banter, but it’s all very important not to offend anyone.
A guide to becoming a witty banter pro
If you’re keen to become wittier and hold a fun conversation with ease, it can be learned. The downside? It will take time and practice. There might be a few false starts along the way. Hang in there, you will get there in the end!
#1 Work on your overall confidence. It’s impossible to be witty and off the cuff with your remarks if you’re muttering and bumbling over your words. Working on your confidence and social ease will help you with the foundations of the subject. You can’t be witty if you’re not comfortable. This means practicing your conversational skills until your confidence grows.
It’s best to do this with people you feel comfortable with. With your own group of friends, simply try and say more. Work on remarks that simply pop into your head, seeing how your audience respond to them. The more you do it, the stronger you’ll feel in your ability. And it will help you in your natural witty banter endeavors!
#2 Be witty with those you have a natural rapport with. It’s not easy to be witty with total strangers or those you’re uncomfortable with. For instance, attempting to be witty in front of your boss, who you’re secretly terrified of, isn’t going to work.
Instead, keep your witty banter for those you have a natural affinity with. The people who get you and those who you understand. This will also cut down on the chances of you accidentally upsetting someone with a witty remark which is not intended to offend.
#3 Ask questions to help the conversation grow. You need material to bounce off of in order to be witty, and that means asking questions to help the conversation grow. Make sure that the questions you ask don’t simply require a “yes” or “no” reply.
Encourage them to add more to their answers as they speak. The single best way to develop witty banter is to let your conversational partner speak and then add in the odd witty comment as you go.
#4 Never interrupt. The point of being witty isn’t to jump in with “know it all” remarks, that’s simply being annoying. What you need to do is listen and use what you hear to add humor to the conversation with your remarks. In order to do this, never interrupt. Simply listen and wait for the appropriate time to interject into the conversation instead.
#5 Have a memory bank of past experiences to call upon. The best way to develop your witty banter skills is through natural story telling. It’s easier to do this if you think of your own past experiences. You were there at the time, so you can add details which give the story depth. Then add ‘off the cuff’ remarks which make the story even funnier.
Sit and think of a few stories you can tell at your next witty banter practice sessions, or you can think of them as you go along. Whatever feels natural to you and helps you feel more confident overall.
#6 Remember that offending people isn’t cool. We all have different opinions, beliefs, and cultures, and that means treading very carefully on subjects which may cause offense. Steer clear of anything which is considered sensitive. Stick to inoffensive subjects and easy to understand for everyone. Never speak about religion, sexuality, disabilities, cultural differences, or anything in those types of categories.
You have no way of gauging someone’s reaction, because you do not know their opinion or beliefs beforehand. Stick to neutral subjects for the best reaction.
#7 The smaller details are often the funniest. You’re not attempting to become a standup comedian, but the whole point of witty banter is to make someone else smile or feel good. Many people use sarcasm for wittiness. But often, a small detail in the story or comment stands out above everything else. I mentioned story telling previous experiences, so come up with a few and pick out humorous small details to zoom in on.
#8 Know when to stop. Have you ever been in that situation where someone is very funny and witty, but they just continue on and don’t seem to know when the stop point is. It all gets a little too much. Going from witty and funny to awkward and cringe-worthy in what seems like an instant. Know when the banter has run its course. Don’t continue on, attempting to be even funnier. Less is more!
#9 Making fun of people is never a good idea. It’s true that people bond over their mutual dislike of something or someone. It doesn’t mean you should pick on others in order to be witty. This will give you a reputation of being nasty rather than the witty, fun person you’re attempting to be.
You also shouldn’t pick on other people or make fun of them generally. You wouldn’t like it if someone did the same to you, would you? If you want to poke fun at yourself, by all means go for it. As long as you’re not damaging your self-esteem, self-deprecating remarks can be very witty indeed.
#10 Practice makes perfect. If you’re not born with the witty banter gene, learning how to do it can be difficult and timely. Don’t give up! The more you practice, the easier it will become. Think of your wittiness as a muscle that needs to be strengthened. It’s a little slack and wobbly at the moment. Once you’ve been to the gym for a few weeks, it becomes firmer, more defined, and stronger. Your witty banter skills are the same!
If comments flying off the cuff don’t come naturally to you, stick with it and observe what is going on around you. As you become more confident, you’ll trust yourself to simply let fly with remarks that pop into your head, provided they’re not offensive, of course.
While we’d all love to be naturally funny and have the art of witty banter down pat, it’s not the case for everyone. Practice makes perfect and confidence is key.