On Adding Humor For Effective Presentation
Easier Than You Think!
You did your research, prepared your talk, rehearsed your lines
in front of the mirror (with and without your clothes on). Your
spouse and children have threatened to catapult themselves off
the roof (without clothes) if you rehearse your lines in the hallway
one more time.You arrive and there is much anticipation. The guy
with the thin mustache in the front row, has a multicolored pen
and pad. It is 10 minutes later and he is drawing zig zag man
running the Boston Marathon. A Piece of tumbleweed rolls across
the back row
is because nobody's there. They're all in the hallway exchanging
business cards and stock tips.
What went Wrong? Why do some people grab the audience's
attention from the Start?
Chances are they used humor in the form of appropriate jokes,
anecdotes, and asides. You would use humor in your presentations
as well if it were not for one or all of the: COMMON
EXCUSES FOR NOT USING HUMOR
1) I've used Humor in the Past and it didn't Work
- Yes but chances are the first time you drove a car you couldn't
do that either. While some folks are born funnier than others,
it is a skill that can be learned and improved with practice.
2) My Speech is too Serious for Humor- If your message
is important, you want your audience to pay attention and remember
that important point. Humor helps revitalize the audience and
often serves as a memory aid.
3) Humor is Disrespectful - Quite to the contrary,
people often respect leaders who use humor (in fact one of the
worst insults, is to tell someone they have no sense of humor).
In fact Humor is often one of the hallmarks of great leadership.George
Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln,
were all charismatic, well respected American leaders who effectively
used humor. (Richard Nixon rarely used humor....and you know the
rest of that story)
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR USING HUMOR
1) Avoid Racist and Sexist Material - Obvious
to most, but warrants emphasis. If in doubt drop it.
2) Make it Relevant - Opening with a joke
that's not relevant to your subject or audience will be seen as
forced humor and it will not work.
3) Memorize your Lines - Know which words to emphasize.
4) Punchline Last- The Punchline is the surprise
ending that gets the laugh. It must be the last thing the audience
5) Pause Before the Punchline - After pausing wait
for the audience to laugh (this is also known as the pregnant
pause). This lets the audience know when to laugh and that it
is okay to laugh. (but don't wait too long if they don't laugh
you may hear crickets in the background if you wait too long)
6) Never announce you are doing a joke - If
the audience knows a joke is coming they will brace themselves
and its effect will be diminished. It is better to say, "that
reminds me of a story", or " this is like the guy who
walked into the bar and asked
."This is much better
than "it reminds me of a funny story"
7) Keep it Brief- the longer the Story the
better the punchline has to be. A shorter setup can support a
less effective punchline.
8) Prepare for "Ad Libs"
- Yes you read correctly. The most talented ad lib comedians come
prepared and so should you. Have lines ready for when the Mike
goes dead, the lights don't go on, slides are upside down etc.