You may be hesitant to incorporate humor into your business presentations, but the reward outweighs the risk.
Here are eight reasons to consider taking the risk and including humor in your speech, introduction or presentation:
- It helps you break the ice, connect with the audience, make a positive impression right off the bat, and be seen as a “real” person.
- It helps you relax. Once you get that first laugh, the rest of your talk will be so much easier, knowing the audience is on your side.
- It makes you more likeable. Humor is a powerful influencer.
- It helps generate interest, and focuses your audience’s attention.
- It reduces hostility, if you are presenting something unpopular or controversial.
- It reduces power gaps, if your position as your audience’s boss gets in the way of open-minded listening.
- It shows you don’t take yourself too seriously.
- It lightens up heavy material, giving the audience a chance to relax and enjoy.
Says Joan Eisenstodt (a former MPI Meeting Planner of the Year, who has booked many speakers), “High content, informational speakers almost always fall flat if they don’t use some humor.”
You don’t have to be Tina Fey, David Letterman or Seth MacFarlane to learn how to incorporate humor into your presentations. Here are four tips:
- Know your audience members and their interests. Don’t expect senior citizens and college kids to laugh at the same things.
- When you have an anecdote or lines you think are funny, practice them, and get some feedback before your presentation.
- It’s OK to use yourself as the butt of your own jokes, but only in a warm and gently self-deprecating way. No one likes to hear others putting themselves down, so there is a fine line. Make sure you smile, so others know it is an attempt at humor.
- Timing is important. Practice how long the most effective pause before your anecdote, and its punch line, should be.
If you deliver many presentations, and just can’t find any way of injecting humor into them, you might need professional help. Yes, there are humor coaches out there, and even writers who can inject a dose of wit into your talks for you.