Using Humour in Presentations

by ltconsulting on September 26, 2011

Our presentation courses are planned to significantly improve presentation skills to allow delegates of all levels to be able to make powerful presentations.  The presentation seminars that we provide are packed full of presentation tips and techniques that demonstrate strategies which will show delegates how to reduce nerves in presentations and to allow them to present confidently when presenting to clients or colleagues. Our presentation skills workshops are designed not just to show delegates how to make a simple presentation: they are designed to show delegates how to create a successful presentation also maximising the applications of PowerPoint to make great presentationsPresentation training will allow delegates to build on their presenting skills; make better presentations; enjoy making presentations and teach delegates how to present successfully.  Delegates who have taken our Presentation Courses have expressed how much they enjoyed the variety in our presentation skills training and now feel confident to present in any situation.

How to use humour in a presentation

Some presenters might say that they could never use humour in their presentations as they wouldn’t feel comfortable with it. We believe that humour adds an additional element to your presentation, as appropriate humour can relax an audience and make it feel more comfortable with you as the speaker. Humour can bring highlight the point you are making; and humour will help the audience better remember your point.  It can break down barriers so that the audience is more receptive to your ideas.

“Humour is simply tragedy separated by time and space.”

The best place to find humour for a speech is from personal experience. Think back on an embarrassing moment that you might have thought not funny at the time. Now that you can laugh at the experience. Or think of a conversation that was funny. Remember the punch line and use it in your speech. Probably the least risky use of humour is a cartoon, and as the cartoon is separate from you and if people don’t laugh, you don’t feel responsible. (Be sure to secure permission to use it.)  You’re not trying to be a comedian; you just want to make it easy for people to pay attention and to help them remember your point.

5 tips for using humour in a presentation

Humour is simply another way of making a point with your audience, and it can help you be a more effective speaker.  If you look at humour as a tool, it can help to improve your speech in the same manner as attention devices, smooth transitions, and a solid structure do.  Remember that getting the audience on your side is the most powerful way of getting your point across, and humour can relax your audience in being more attentive.

  1. Make sure the humour is funny to you. If you don’t laugh or smile at the cartoon, joke, pun, one-liner, story, or other forms of humour, then you certainly cannot expect an audience to do so.  This is a key to using only humour that makes you laugh or smile.
  2. Before using humour in your speech, try it out with small groups of people, and ask yourself  do they seem to enjoy it?  Even if your experimental group does not laugh or smile initially, don’t give up on the humour, because the problem might be in the way you are delivering the joke or quip.  It can take practice to get comfortable with a piece of humour.  Only use humour in a speech after you are comfortable telling it from memory and have tested it.
  3. Ensure the humour used relates to the actual point that you are making. Do not use humour that is simply there to make the audience laugh.  The humour should tie in with your speech. If you don’t tie your humour to your presentation, the audience may like the humour, but will wonder what point you are attempting to make. It may actually distract the audience, anger them, cause you to lose their attention rather then gain.
  4. Begin with something short. A starting point might be to summarise a cartoon and give the caption as your humour.  A thought-provoking yet clever line about a point you are making is another way to get started.  In your reading, look for lines that make you smile; consider how they might be used in your next speech.  Be careful about launching into a long humorous story–audiences are quick to forgive a single line that may not be funny, but they do not have much patience with a long anecdote that isn’t worth the time.  So start out with brief bits of humour.
  5. Don’t begin a humorous story by saying, “Let me tell you a funny story.” Allow the audience decide for themselves.  Look pleasant and smile as you launch into your funny line, but if no one smiles or laughs then just move on as though you meant for it to be serious.  This approach can take the pressure off as you relate the humour.  Remember, you are not a comedian entertaining the audience; you are a serious speaker seeking to help the audience remember and pay attention by using humour as a tool.

Excellent presentation skills give you a platform to demonstrate your sales skills, leadership qualities, communication skills, influencing abilities and promotion potential. Our objective over the two days is to teach you the skills and techniques that will give you both the confidence and competence to enjoy making presentations in all situations. We will be giving action points to sharpen your image; reduce nerves; allow you to appear both confident and competent and increase your credibility in the eyes of colleagues and clients.

PowerPoint presentation skills, Advanced Presentation skills and Presentation skills are three of the courses trained by Total Success Training, a training consultancy specialising in communication training and management skills in London and throughout the UK. Other related courses include sales presentation skills, training the trainer, assertiveness skills, selling skills, negotiation skills and communication skills for managers. Click here if you need more information regarding presentation skills course information or contact Total Success who will be delighted to talk to you via e-mail.

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