Using Humor Effectively
Integrating humor into your oral presentation helps enhance and maintain the audience's attention and interest. Here are some pointers for effectively incorporating humor into your presentation.
- Beginning a presentation with a joke or humorous story is a great way to break the ice. It can help audience members relax, which will help you relax, too.
- Using humor and stories in the body of the presentation is a great way to emphasize key points, and recapture the attention of the audience.
- Use topic-related cartoons, drawings, or illustrations that can be projected for all to see.
- Use humor that maintains your personal dignity as well as the dignity of audience members. Never use humor that would embarrass an audience member or damage his or her self-esteem.
- Try out your stories or jokes on a couple friends and/or acquaintances to make sure they are humorous. Practice telling the stories or jokes before the presentation to improve your delivery.
- Use humor that's acceptable to the group and not offensive. Avoid references to ethnicity, religion, politics, and gender.
- Most humor is very culturally specific and in some cases regionally specific. Make sure you know who your audience is and what they find humorous before using any jokes.
Controlling Your Nervousness
Most people are a little nervous when they speak in public. In fact, a little nervous energy can enhance a performance or presentation. It is important to control this nervous energy, however, so that it remains a positive motivating force rather than a debilitating one.
- If you are well prepared you will be less nervious. Practice your oral presentation in advance and keep rehearsing it until you're satisfied. Then, when the time comes to deliver the presentation, you'll be confident in your ability to do well.
- Prior to the presentation dedicate time to focus and clear your head of other thoughts. Run through the presentation in your head one final time and remind yourself of how well prepared you are.
- Greet the people with whom you'll be speaking. This helps you create a rapport with the audience from the beginning and helps you recognize that the audience "isn't out to get you" — they want you to deliver a good presentation.
- Take deep breaths and consciously relax your body from head to toe to reduce some of the physical symptoms of being nervous.
- Make eye contact with members of the audience before you begin your presentation. If you've already established a rapport with them by greeting them, this will reestablish in your mind that the audience wants you to succeed.