First let’s start off by saying it is ok to be funny while doing a presentation. You are likely to be more memorable than if you just did a straight talk. Remember, however, that not everyone will share your sense of humor, and some subjects just don’t lend themselves to any sort of fun.
So long as you have the right kind of humor and your presentation is solid, you can bring in the funny. But how can you know the right way to do all of this? Here are three tips to help you.
Know your audience
One of the biggest things you can do is some initial investigation of who you will be speaking to. Any jokes you put in should be ones your audience will understand. Realistically, you should be researching your audience anyway to know what kind of company it is, who the people are who will be there (i.e. the executive team, the engineers, or the admins), and what ethnic or cultural issues there might be. Even things like hand gestures might be taken the wrong way by some groups. Famously, employees at the Disney resorts use two fingers to indicate a direction because a single index finger in some cultures is seen as a vulgarity.
Craft your content
Have you talked to this group before? If you have then you might already know places you could put in a funny joke and keep them engaged. Let’s say you are making a safety presentation. A slide about ladder safety with a rolling chair just sliding out of view can be both funny and make the point that this is not an appropriate tool.
If you have not talked to this group in the past, you should start off with a straight introduction so you can establish yourself as an expert and not be seen as a jokester. Also, don’t make everything you say a joke, or again you will not be taken seriously for the things you need to be serious about. For an average 10 minute presentation, you can actually just have two or three jokes and it will be just fine. It might not seem like that is enough, but it can be just right to convey that you are confident and know enough of your material to have some fun with it. You should also write your presentation in such a way that if your jokes aren’t working, you can drop them without missing any content.
It’s not a stand-up open mike night
Remember, not every joke is going to land, and that’s ok. Maybe everyone in the room has come from another meeting with a lot of information to process, or they have just received some bad news. Just move on from the joke and keep going with your presentation. You can only control what you do, so if the group you are presenting to isn’t reacting, that’s ok.
Humor does have its place in the workplace, and it can be a great addition to liven up a PowerPoint presentation so you are the one they remember.