What are some of the ways you can use humour in your presentations? A great presentation is one that captivates, and engages, the audience. An effective ways to do this is to provide a few laughs, however ‘Joke-telling’ isn’t natural for us all. Think of it more like telling a story on stage with a few humorous elements thrown in here and there, rather than launching into stand-up comedy in front of hundreds of people. Whether it’s a speech for work, luncheon, university or public speaking event, here are some general tips for how you can use humour to engage your audience:
1. Don’t just tell jokes, draw on your own experiences to create funny stories.
If you’re going to tell jokes or quote jokes, make sure they’re appropriate for your audience and that you know them well enough to tell them right. The problem with jokes is that there are so many out there, and unless you’re a stand-up comedian, it’s hard to remember them all. Plus, some people will get the joke and others won’t. What I recommend instead is drawing on your own experiences and using those stories as your source of humour.
2. Use humour to personalize your relationship with an audience, respond to their body language and feel their energy.
Humour is all about timing — you have to know when and how to use it, when not to go too far and when to stop completely. I like using humour to personalize my relationship with an audience — for example, if I see a certain body language or feel a certain energy from them, I might respond with some cheeky humour that will keep them engaged and attentive. Always be aware of your audience’s responses.
3. Learn how to use humour effectively and confidently during tense times in order to help alleviate that tension.
Getting stuck on a slide or forgetting what you were going to say next is never a fun experience for a presenter. Suddenly, the room gets quiet and awkward stares are directed straight at you. If you need to take some time to think of what you want to say next, don’t stay frozen in silence. Use humour to diffuse the situation instead. Make a joke about being lost or simply laugh it off if it happens unexpectedly. It will help alleviate the tension that’s built up from the awkward silence and reassure everyone that everything is okay while they wait for you to continue on with your presentation. Even though these moments may feel embarrassing at first, they don’t have to be if you turn them into a teachable moment with some clever humour sprinkled in!
If you can learn to integrate humour into your presentation, you will find that you are able to ‘break the ice’ with your audience. You will find it easier to have an entertaining conversation with them. In turn, not only will you learn advanced skills in presenting, but you will also develop a sense of showmanship that is so highly valued by creative agencies; a skillset that is hard to teach and is often the result of years of trial and error. Ff you are able to use humour effectively, whether through jokes or stories, the audience will definitely appreciate your effort. They’ll feel there’s a human behind the façade, and this connection will create a more intimate relationship between speaker and audience.