10 tips to add humour to your presentation

Humour tips from Bo Benet of Talking Toastmasters – you can listen to the podcast here.

  1. Never take credit for somebody else’s joke
  2. Don’t tell the same joke over and over
  3. Be appropriate to the audience
  4. Keep it short – long jokes are confusing, and prone to mishaps
  5. Be smooth – delivery is as important as the content (if not more so)
  6. Timing is important in delivery of humour
  7. Make sure the humour is relevant to the situation and occasion
  8. Do not make jokes at other peoples expense
  9. Don’t overdo it. Be fully, but you don’t need to be a stand-up comic
  10. Don’t be corny

Using just the right words

One of my mentors, David Brooks, speaks about economy of words, and using just the right words to get your message across. His message came home to me when I won the recent humour-hopabout contest. At one stage, I was speaking about Murphy’s law’s of cell phones. and in an early draft I said something like this:

Murphy’s first law of cell phones states that the probability of your phone battery being flat is directly proportional to the urgency of the call that you need to make.

While the point that I was making was funny, I was being convoluted in the way that I was saying it. As soon as the audience heard words like “probability”, and “directly proportional”, they were going to be reminded of high-school math class, and fall asleep. In the final version, I said something  like this:

Murphy’s first law of cell phones says that your battery is full if when you don’t need to make a call, but it is flat when you need to make an urgent call.

Short, simple and to the point. The audience can relate it it immediately, and have no trouble following it. It was a minor change to the message, getting exactly the same point across, but in a far more effective manner.

When you speak, consider what yout message it, how you are portraying it, and how effective you are getting it across.

By the way, you can watch my speech here.

Winning the humour hop-about contest

Humourous HopAbout Competition 24th November 2008 - Copy
Monday evening was the annual humour-hopabout contest, hosted by Table Bay Toastmasters club in Cape Town. Since I am a Toastmasters district officer, I am usually not allowed to enter contests. However, because this is not an official contest, I was able to enter.

The humour-hopabout contest has been running since 1980 and it always draws fierce competition, a large audience, and lots of laughter. To compete, you need to present a 3-4 minute long humorous speech. I believe that the more you speak, the more you learn (stage time), so I entered the contest.

Well, imagine my surprise when I won the contest with my speech, which examined the lighter side of mobile phones. Clearly, I must be learning something from the Champions Edge. I also re-listened to Darren?s Make em Laugh set the week before the contest, which helped me to focus on and edit my speech.

So, at least for the next year I am the humour champion in Cape Town!