Learn my do’s and don’ts of using humor when speaking. Humor is an extremely powerful tool in public speaking, as long as it is done well.
I know how important this is. I have seen way too many speakers tank their presentations because they used humor ineffectively. So you can know exactly what to do, read my 3 Do’s and Don’t of of presentation humor and avoid your own personal speaking “funny bomb”.
# 1 – Making the “Funny Story” Announcement
One big mistake I see over and over is when an individual announces when they are getting ready to tell a joke or a funny story. They start a joke by saying “Here is a funny story.” or “A funny thing happened when I …” The challenge is when someone announces it is going to be funny; they have set themselves up for potential failure.
Unless the joke or the funny story is absolutely hysterical and leaves everyone rolling on the floor, it will make you look bad. When you tell them it is going to be “funny,” you have to deliver something that is exceptionally funny. Their expectations of your joke or story will be set really high and you are almost doomed to failure.
So what do you do instead? Surprise them by just telling the story. If they find it funny, it will be an unexpected sensational experience and they will love you. If they don’t, you saved yourself from a huge disaster. If they weren’t expecting your story to be funny, they would barely notice if it turned out to be a Funny Bomb.
# 2 – Put a Ban on Sarcasm
I must regrettably admit that sarcasm was a huge problem of mine. I am quick on my feet and sarcasm humor comes rather easily to me. One day I learned something that would change the way I look at sarcasm forever.
Sarcasm unintentionally hurts the receiver. When you pay attention to this you will clearly see how profound that statement is. The next time you or another person makes a sarcastic remark, watch the body language of the receiver. They quickly can appear to become uncomfortable, angry, upset or distant. The recipient of the sarcasm rarely finds this type of humor amusing.
# 3 – Avoid, Avoid and Really Avoid
When it comes to humor, remember to always avoid anything that relates to sex, politics, race, nationalities, gender, communities and sports. Those are off limits unless you are looking to alienate members in your audience. Avoid self-deprecating humor because it devalues you.
In most cases you can make fun of your family unless they are sitting in your audience or they will hear about it later. It never feels great to make someone else look bad.
Remember this. Knowing how to use humor in a presentation, is essential to leaving your audience wanting more and keeping them educated and entertained.
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I found this great article by Gail Zack Anderson called Humor in Presentations: Do’s and Don’ts. I thought you might want to read this too. You can check it out at:
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