Presentation Jokes - Should you tell a joke?

tell jokes in your presentation
Presentation Jokes

No jokes please.

If you are performing stand up comedy – tell jokes. That’s what the audience wants. They want to be entertained. They don’t want a message. When you are delivering a business presentation don’t tell jokes. Your audience did not come to hear jokes. They came to hear your message.

Remember that the purpose of your presentation is to get a particular message across in a convincing way that moves your audience to act in the way that you desire. In a business presentation you might want your audience to buy, to approve, to work, to donate or to volunteer. That is your purpose and everything in your presentation should focus to achieve that purpose.

In a business presentation your purpose is not to tell jokes. In fact you should avoid telling jokes. There are three reasons:

1. Most business presentations cannot tell a joke well in front of an audience. It might look easy but those standup comics know the art and science of telling jokes and they practice a lot.

2. Too many presenters tell a joke that has nothing to do with their message. The disconnect leaves the audience confused, Instead of listening to what you say after the joke they are thinking, “What was that about?”

3. Most jokes make fun about other people – some other race, sex, culture, religion etc… That might offend some of your listeners. Don’t use humor that pushes people away from you.

You can and probably should help them laugh. So how can you help people laugh without telling jokes during your presentation?

Tell funny stories or anecdotes about yourself. Tell them about some thing you goofed up, a personal frustration or a minor flaw. Reveal your imperfection.

When you do that the audience warms up to you because they see you as human – imperfect like themselves. And the bonus is they might laugh or at least lighten up. And that is all you want. There is no need to have them rolling on the floor convulsed with laughter.

Two important rules to keep in mind when telling a story:
1. Keep is as short as possible. Be sure to rehearse it well.
2. The story must support your message.

There you have it – no more excuses for telling jokes in a business presentation. Start practicing your funny stories. Watch for more tips on telling stories later.

George Torok
Speech Coach for Executives
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