Deciding whether to add humour to your presentation is a contentious topic. It’s considered risky by many and let’s face it: it takes a delicate hand to make it work.
If you can pull it off, humour provides effective relief and does wonders for engaging your audience. It’s also a great tool for making dry but important topics memorable.
Add Humour to Your Presentation
You don’t need to be a comedian to make it work, and you shouldn’t try to be one. Simply follow these principles when you add humour to your presentation, and run anything you come up with past colleagues to ensure its appropriate and that you don’t bomb.
1.) Content First
You should only add humour to your presentation on top of first-class content. People are taking time out to come and see you present with the intention of getting something out of it, so make sure your material is delivering on this front first and treat comic aspects as a value-add.
2.) Respect Your Audience
If you’re worried that any humour in your presentation might annoy or offend some people, cut it out immediately.
It’s simply not worth the risk of alienating part or all of your audience. You want to maintain your credibility throughout and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
And remember, there are more of them than there are of you. Missteps can be extremely hard to recover from and it’s much safer to be slightly self-deprecating in your approach.
3.) Use The Right Techniques
Professional presentations aren’t the place for gags and physical comedy; it’s better to take advantage of small-scale semantic humour. Consider:
• Exaggeration and Metaphor
• Puns and Wordplay
• Visual Humour
Remember never to steal jokes from anywhere else, and to mix things up using a couple of different types of humour. This helps you avoid becoming predictable and keeps your audience interested and on their toes.
4.) Make Sure It Works
Your humour should be relevant to your subject and audience – off-topic jokes cheapen your presentation and diminish your authority on a subject.
Industry ‘inside jokes’ generally go down well with conference audiences and demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of your field.
5.) Know Where It’s Appropriate
Humour has its place in professional presentations, but it’s important to be a good judge of where this is. For example, you’re going to want to play it straight if reporting on financial targets or pitching a new project to the higher-ups.
Got any tried and tested techniques to use when you want to add humour to your presentation? Let Us know on Twitter @Buffalo7.