Mixing in Humor

Mix in Humor | MustSee guides

Maybe, like me, you struggle for clarity when you write, deliver a presentation, or give a speech. I tended to concentrate on “getting it right” and didn’t attempt to inject some humor into what I was doing. The nice thing about making a guide is that you aren’t facing an audience as you create it. You can let your guard down, have some fun, and even be funny.

Showing your humorous side in telling your stories is important. From the time of the Greek comedy writer, Aristophanes, humor has helped getting people to appreciate stories about the world around them. Mixing in humor doesn’t need to be a major challenge. Here are some tips that make it easy to interjecting your sense of humor into your guides:

Know Your Audience:Understanding the background and level of knowledge of your audience will help you deliver the right message with the right kind of humor. Bringing up a subject that your audience does not know will leave your humor falling flat and you hearing crickets.

Consistent Message: One time during a team presentation, we made a bet to see who could put in a random word into their part. One of my colleagues had disastrous results as he incorporated the word “mermaid” into a re-organization strategy. We laughed but the audience did not. When you do use humor or a joke, it is important that the subject has some relationship to the purpose of the overall story. Otherwise, you could throw your whole presentation off-kilter.

Avoid One-Liners: On the PublicWords website, Nick Morgan does of good job of a detailed explanation of the difference between using cheap simple jokes and engaging, witty irony. He tackles how to use irony with 3 rules for making irony memorable.

Be Authentic: Hillary Rea is a big proponent of using your own personality when talking. Use your own style of humor and tell stories from your life. She says that the use of “I’s” by the talker turns into “me’s” from the audience. Talking about your own life and experiences based on the subject you are talking about, people can find the humor and the relatable context that you’re seeking.

Relax: Being anxious in preparation and delivering your talk will dampen your creativity. Improv comedy groups use the expression of “yes and…” to acknowledge what has been said and done and then moving into a position to respond. This tool lets you accept what is happening and be in a creative position to ad lib a witty response.


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