When I talk and teach about connecting to your audience, I am often asked about the value of using humor. Effective humor is a great way to establish rapport and connect to your audience, but the key is that you must be funny! The risk of failing with humor outweighs the potential benefit, especially for nervous and novice presenters.
If you wish to use humor, please follow two important rules:
- Test out your humor on people similar to those who will be in your audience, AND…listen to what they say about your jokes.
- Use self-deprecating humor (humor about yourself). This type of humor tends to be the safest.
Finally, please read this recent Stanford Graduate School of business article by Time humor writer Joel Stein for research based findings about humor in presenting.