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7 Tips For Adding Humor to a Presentation

Tips For Adding Humor to a Presentation

If you’re looking to capture the heart and soul of your audience and make your presentation stand out from the others, a little humor can add a lot of emotion and dimension to your content and delivery. Here are 7 Tips for adding humor to a presentation…

Adding humor to a presentation is generally easy.  Simply find a section of your presentation that’s dry and monotonous and use a “delivery device” (from earlier) that with strengthen your presentation.  Try a brief and relevant comment or story. 

You don’t need to be a comedian to make your audience laugh…and they don’t even need to laugh for your humor to be effective.  Just take your talk lightly for a moment, and just be you.  Even if you’re making fun of yourself with a self-deprecating joke, you’ll bring a level of authenticity to your presentation that will help unite and connect.

Here are some overall tips for using humor in a presentation:

Use humor to inspire, unite, and motivate.

Humor isn’t just making your audience laugh.  It can serve to inspire, unite, and motivate.  You’re not just there to talk, but to share your perspective – amplified by humor – about your subject and to help them understand and act on it.  For example, if you’re talking about getting audience members trained on new software and they feel some concern and need motivation, try a short one-liner like, “Do not underestimate your abilities. That is your boss’s job.” Don’t just look at yourself as a Subject Matter Expert….but as a motivational leader.

Leave people with a positive feeling

Business presentations can sometimes be critical and divisive.  Humor has the ability to deflect criticism and diffuse a negative tone by uniting people with lightness.  Humor in business presentations can help bridge gaps of uncertainty and negativity.  Humor has a time and a place in business presentations.  Try not to deflect the seriousness of a heavy topic with a silly joke or trivial response.  But if you feel it’s appropriate, aim to lift the spirits of your audience with a little laughter.  Humor in presentations – at the right time and place – can help people feel a little more positive with an underlying message of, “things might be seriously sour, but we’re going to get through together with a smile.”

Transition from one topic to another with Humor

Humor can serve as a terrific transition from one section / topic to another and set the foundation for the next portion of your presentation.  Nobody wants to hear a speaker talk continuously about a boring topic.  A light funny story or comment helps buttress the key sections and topics in your presentation, and just like a revitalizing breath – gives your audience a mental break. 

Use humor to reduce nervousness

If you’re nervous about delivering your presentation, humor can help.  Laughter calms nerves and releases hormones that can help you to relax while building a bond between you and your audience.  View your audience as friends rather than critical colleagues.  Look them in the eyes, relax, smile, and share your message with humor. 

Deliver humor with humility and avoid arrogance

A presentation with humor should build a bond between you and your audience.  Aim to deliver any presentation with a sense of humility.  You’re not sharing a joke to raise your ego, but to connect with your audience through a shared human experience.  Avoid arrogance and ego-fueled humor.  Comments and jokes that are critical of others or make people laugh at the expense of someone else can be divisive and affect the impact of your overall presentation.

Smile and laugh with your audience

Laughter is contagious.  Don’t just share your joke and wait for your audience to laugh.  In-person or virtually, get into the act and smile and laugh with them.  Your unspoken cues of smiles and laughter will drive a two-way connection to deliver laughter and an added dimension of connection to your presentation.

Memorize and practice your funny stuff

Presenting humor and laughing matter to an audience is a delicate art of quality content and careful delivery.  Although you can extemporaneously deliver the core of your presentation, it’s better to memorize your humorous content and practice its delivery.  Great material often sounds impromptu, but it is rarely so.  By rehearsing your funny-stuff, you can refine the content, feel more comfortable with it, and determine whether it’s appropriate for your audience.  Practice makes perfect.

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