Should you start with a joke?

Should I tell a joke when I start my presentation?

Ha, ha – don’t do that. Don’t start with a joke.

That is an antiquated piece of advice given to novice presenters by other novices.

I’ve seen it done and it was painful to witness.

There’s nothing wrong with making people laugh but you should avoid telling jokes. Maybe you heard a joke over coffee or while having drinks and it sounded funny – but don’t use it in your presentation.

Here’s why:

The traditional jokes told by comedians might have made the audience laugh but the comedian was a professional joke teller. You have no idea how much effort they put into rehearsing the joke so they could get the delivery just right. Most jokes die when the delivery is wrong.

You probably don’t have that experience so the joke will die and that’s a terrible way to start your presentation.

Also the joke probably doesn’t relate to your message. The audience will be wondering “What does that have to do with this?”

And most jokes poke fun at someone. It’s not a good way to start your presentation by putting someone down. There’s a good chance that you will offend some people in your audience with your insulting attitude.

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