Tips On Adding Humor For Effective Presentation
It's 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….Nobody moves….nobody notices…. that 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

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.

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)


Avoid Racist and Sexist Material - Obvious to most, but warrants emphasis. If in doubt drop it.
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.
Punchline Last- The Punchline is the surprise ending that gets the laugh. It must be the last thing the audience hears.
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)
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"
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.

Copyright 2002 MedHumor Presentations