Is humor a strategic skill?
Using humor in a talk opens up an audience, increases engagement, raises energy and improves awareness and retention of ideas. All of these outcomes can be achieved by other means, but humor has the unique characteristic that it touches all five all at once.
If you want to become a more funny presenter, the fastest and most effective way is to eliminate everything which makes you unfunny.
Simply avoid the following:
- Making fun of others, especially people or groups with a lower social status. Instead, remove your ego and make fun of yourself as a fallible human being.
- Trying too hard: Anyone who tries to be funny, probably isn’t. Instead of mimicking a stand-up comedian, focus on simply being entertaining.
- Jokes. Don’t go there. Use stories and the occasional clever pun instead.
- Using videos and cartoons. These imply that you have run out of ideas and have completely outsourced being witty to a screen.
- Extensive stories. Any story will be much more fun when the time to tell the story is cut in half.
- Skipping the pause. Humor is driven by excellent timing. Even reading a phonebook out loud can be hilarious when masterful timing is applied.
- Expecting the same reactions with different audiences. What causes a belly laugh on one occasion, will invoke a smile on another occasion. As long as people are entertained and connected, you’re doing well.
Enjoy yourself on stage, and your energy, wit and humor will be contagious.