Humor: How to Use it Effectively in Presentations

Humor can be an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to public speaking. The moment an audience laughs with you, they connect with you. When you incorporate humor into a presentation, it makes you real, authentic, and relatable to the audience. It shows that you are confident enough to laugh and it can lighten up the mood of the room. It can also be one of the most effective ways to make your presentation memorable. Incorporating humor doesn’t require you to be a seasoned comedian or a naturally funny person. There are plenty of ways that anyone can use humor in their presentation.


In order for presentation humor to be effective, you have to plan for it. Sure, there may be times when you can ad-lib and or use humor to recover from a mishap, but it should usually be executed deliberately. Here are a few different ways you can add humor to your presentation:


Personal anecdotes: The easiest (and usually the most effective) way to infuse humor is to poke a little fun at yourself. You can tell personal stories about something funny that happened to you, as this is a great way to relate to your audience. Furthermore, since you experienced it yourself, it becomes easier to retell the story. 


Funny quotes: Another idea is to find a funny quote that relates to your topic and use it at an appropriate time during your speech.


Funny analogy: Funny analogies are great because not only will they get a laugh, but they also help to illustrate your point. 


Tell Stories: You can also tell humorous stories that may not be personal, but still relate to your topic. Storytelling is a great communication tool, and telling a humorous story is a great way to engage your audience and make your presentation more memorable. 

Tips to remember when using humor:


Humor is a great way to break the ice, lighten the mood, captivate your listeners, and make your presentation more interesting, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian. Use humor sparingly, as a few laughs throughout the presentation is really all you need. 


Be mindful of your audience when telling jokes. You never want to say something that might insult, offend, or make fun of members of your audience. Think very carefully about whether or not your humor will come across as sexist, prejudicial, or offensive.


Remember that humor is very cultural and what works in one country may not work in another. Again, consider your audience and refrain from slang, references, or  phrases that other cultures might not understand.