How To Add Humor To Presentations
By Karen Susman
With all the jokes on the internet, the temptation is to foist gags gathered in your e-mail box on your audience. Very few of us are comedians or good joke tellers. Can you spell “painful?” You don’t have to be funny to add a dollop of humor to your presentations. Try these nine ways to make you and your message memorable.
- Give your audience permission to laugh. Tell them up front to enjoy themselves. Smile. Move toward them. Gesture. Gesture big. Of course, if you’re delivering a eulogy, skip the permission to laugh part. Just tell endearing stories about the deceased and you’ll get a welcome chuckle.
- Don’t tell jokes unless they’re perfect for the situation. Run jokes by peers to make sure they’re funny, appropriate and support the point you’re making. Then practice, practice, practice. Then forget it.
- Don’t open a presentation with a joke. If the joke bombs, you’ve launched the rest of your speech into a downward spiral. Use a humorous anecdote or true story about you that relates to your topic. Don’t tell someone else’s story or retell a story like it happened to you. Be original.
- Poke fun at yourself. It’s safe and engaging. Collect and file anecdotes about your travel traumas and adventures, children, pets, cars, embarrassing moments, career path, mistakes, family or growing up.
- Keep a notebook or tape recorder handy to track funny observations. What makes something funny is your outrageous reaction to something mundane. When George Carlin isn’t using those seven no-no words, he’s ranting on everyday topics like what’s in your refrigerator today that should have been tossed in 1987.
- Cartoons add life to your presentation and make a point quickly. Watch copyright. Hire a cartoonist to create a one of a kind cartoon that illustrates your point perfectly. This can be done quite reasonably. Check the internet for sources.
- Let others be funny. React to humor. Don’t step on others’ laughter. Smile, do double takes, laugh out loud.
- Collect funny quotations, headlines and book titles. If Jay Leno can do this, why not you?
- If you goof up during a presentation, laugh at yourself and the situation. This reduces your stress and the audience’s stress about your stress.
Even if you have a serious presentation chock full of numbers, statistics, graphs and charts, look for places to add humor. Candid Camera’s Allen Funt said, “When people are smiling, they are most receptive to almost anything you want to teach them.”
Karen Susman, Speaker/Author/Coach, works with organizations and individuals that want to maximize their performance and quality of life. Check out her free tips and articles at www.karensusman.com. Karen can be reached at 1-888-678-8818 or [email protected].