We hear it all the time: if you want to get the big bucks, you’ve got to use humor in your presentations. Even if you’re not in it for the money-humor definitely helps you to get your point across.
There’s no question that if you give presentations in front of an audience, humor should be one of the big hammers in your speaking toolkit. For some people (the lucky ones!), this comes quickly and easily. The rest of us have to work at it.
Some speakers solve the problem by trotting down to the nearest Barnes & Noble and plopping down twenty bucks for a big book with a title like 1,001 Sure-Fire Jokes For All Occasions. Then they trot merrily back home (in my world, people trot a lot), pleased that they finally have that “humor monkey” off their back. Just memorize a half-dozen or so of these babies, and go out and wow ’em at the next keynote!
Um… I don’t know how to tell you this, but the odds are that that ain’t gonna work. Unless you’re really, really lucky. And do you really want to count on luck while you’re up there on the platform with 500 pairs of eyes staring blankly at you?
Okay, what’s my beef with jokes? Why do I say to virtually all of the speakers I consult that jokes, for the most part, simply don’t work? 3 reasons:
1. Most People Can’t Tell a Joke
Have you ever heard somebody try to tell a joke, only to end up sounding something like this: “Okay, there were these two guys, and… no, wait, three guys, and they walk into this bar. And the bartender says, ‘Hey, Fred… ‘ oh, the first guy’s name is Fred, and the bartender knows him. And he has a parrot on his shoulder. But you’re not supposed to know that yet. Anyway… ” Let’s face it, that’s how most of us tell jokes! Look, I made my living in comedy for 15 years, and I can’t tell a joke well. Why? Well, like a lot of people, I have a tough time remembering how the joke goes! And believe me, I’ve got enough to think about when I’m standing in front of an audience! I certainly don’t want to be bogged down trying to remember what my next line is-do you?