The surprising tool that makes your serious subject stick

Frankie Kemp

4 March 2019

Recognise this facial expression? 

That’s all Tim saw during his presentation (the expression, not Hilary Clinton).

He did something that many of us might do, thinking it would ease the pressure.

“A joke will do it,”  and he recalled one that had previously made all his friends cackle with joy at the punchline. 

Fast forward to the presentation. Tim tells aforementioned joke. Audience stares at him. 

You could have a heard a flea fall to the floor. 

Tim loses confidence. Muddles through speech. Goes home, kicking himself. 

Many presenters stick jokes in at the beginning but I’ve rarely known it to go well.  

Firstly, jokes are not as universal as some of the ideas you may find here and secondly they depend on timing, which you’ll not be able to judge when adrenalin is coarsing through your veins. 

The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute reports that as soon as you hear a joke, your heart rate increases, you jiggle with mirth and your brain releases a cocktail of “feel-good” neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and an array of endorphins.  

So with that load of legal highs, why wouldn’t you want to make your audience laugh?  

Go here to discover the 7 ways you can use humour to give your audience that same kick (without telling jokes)

The common assumption is that jokes equal humour.

Although that is the case (with a good joke), laughing at something funny is what creates that cocktail of feel-good hormones. To access humour, a joke isn’t necessary. 

Humour is actually often a by-product of a shared, recognisable and truthful experience

Let’s say you need to address the digital gap between you and your competitor when you present.  It’s a serious subject so why would you want to use humour to talk about it? 

Here are 5 reasons why humour is invaluable, even when your subject is serious:

  1. Increases empathy: the laughter that emits increases empathy amongst the audience and between the audience and speaker
  2. Lowers defences: humour surprises an audience.  This lowers their defences and brings people closer together and to you.
  3. Increases the seriousness: the contrast of light humour with the weightier message will increase the gravity of your content.
  4. Variety: it’s the spice of life, breaking up the monotony of a very heavy content driven speech
  5. Engagement: it’s an effective way to make people listen to you

Here you’ll find 7 ways – plus examples – to use humour when you present

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