We all love humor in speeches. Many Toastmasters go to great lengths to incorporate it into their presentations — however, there is one area in which many think humor has no place: I have seen even the funniest Toastmasters turn as dry as the desert when presenting district business reports.
Yet audiences appreciate speakers who can interject humor into business presentations. These three steps will help you create powerful humor in a business context. One particular site leader in Reading, England, faced an ongoing problem when addressing an international audience: Nobody knew where the town of Reading was.
After fielding countless questions, the man changed his next presentation to address the problem. Why was this funny? Because the speaker addressed an issue painfully familiar to almost everyone in the audience: And there lies the fundamental law of humor — truth and pain.
Hostile humor that belittles should be avoided at all costs. Writer Jenna Goudreau points out in a forbes. With that in mind, find humor that your particular audience can identify with. Choose areas they can relate to with a little bit of pain.
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Unfamiliar places, software updates, traffic jams, email ping pong and tedious company processes are examples from the world of business. Tap into these situations for humorous material to use in your presentations. I frequently train others on how to create engaging virtual presentations and webinars — the ones you view on-screen and hear over the phone such as via WebEx or Skype.
It is a challenge to interject humor into this type of training process. How can we bring some humor to this topic?
American humorist Jack Handey illustrates the point: He then upends your expectation by using the phrase literally, which gives the context a funny twist. At one point I was tasked with incorporating clash of context into my training on how to deliver engaging virtual presentations and webinars.
First, I display a photograph of a woman smiling while sitting at her computer. Next, I show a full-page image of an empty chair and comment on how remote audience members typically look more like chairs, suggesting that people tend to be physically or mentally removed from the situation.
This usually generates laughter, as I find people often recognize themselves in this situation. How can you find examples of clashes? I started one presentation like this: This brought laughter to the audience.
Try to find an interesting, yet surprising fact that relates to your business topic. Interaction is a great way to potentially produce humorous situations.
I have had good experiences using closed questions — those that require a specific answer, or only a yes or no reply — when trying to interject humor into a business presentation, because you can nicely interject a clash of context into interactions.
I had a client who did this effectively. Demonstrating her new software application for filling out company expense reports, she started her presentation like this: Can I see a show of hands? Who of you likes filling out these expense reports?
This example demonstrates the truth-and- pain concept as well as the clash of context. I will now show the new, improved and easy version of the expense-report software.Easily win new clients by creating impressive business proposals, price quotes, and contracts with ClientPoint's award winning business proposal software.
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