Funny presentations are some of the most memorable. Laughing cheers us up. It makes us feel light and happy. And in the world of business, that positive energy can make a huge impact. Humour also helps us remember a message. An audience relates to a relaxed and fun speaker and remembers what they have to say. Funniness is a valuable tool in the presentation world. So read ahead if you want to know how to make a presentation funny.
Consider your audience
The first thing you should do before creating funny presentations is to consider your audience. What are they there to learn? So what should you be there to say? The same rule goes for making your presentation funny. Consider the atmosphere of the room. Is it very professional? Or more casual? Does your audience need information? Or are they there to be inspired? Consider these questions along with factors like the ages and professions of the audience. It will give you a clearer idea of what kind of humour they will appreciate.
Consider the intention of your speech and remember that your audience will have things in common if they are there to listen to you. If you want to know how to make a speech funny, consider your audience. For example, a presentation for high school students will include references understood by teenagers. Or you can be more specific and make insider jokes known by others in your company if you’re doing a work presentation.
Focus on your message
Likely for any business and professional presentation, humour will not be your key message. After all, you are not a stand-up comedian. There is another concept you are trying to portray to your audience. And that should be your focus. So don’t start preparing your presentation with the intention to be funny. Concentrate on your message and then include humour later.
Sprinkle in moments of humour around the main body of your speech. Don’t go for cheap laughs. Instead, be specific to your message. It will make your humour more original, creative, and it will impact how your audience remembers your key concept. Keep the humour relevant and try not to alienate anyone. Use general humour that isn’t crass or offensive to others.
Remember to always bring it back around to your message and keep your jokes relevant to the subject. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously! A bit of self-deprecation will make you more relatable to the audience and help them feel comfortable. Keep it light and fun for the most natural laughs.
Tell a funny story
Multiple research promotes the benefits of storytelling. A story is a way of portraying a clear message in a creative and relatable way. It has a reason, whether that’s a lesson or a moral, and makes a point. The message of the story should be clear to the audience. Otherwise, they will be left distracted and confused. But an effective and well-delivered story can inspire, engage, and transform minds. It can have an even more powerful effect when it is a funny story, making it more memorable and relatable.
Funny presentations gain a rapport with their listeners. They grab your attention from the beginning. Funny stories about people are especially gripping. By using names and explaining the relationship between story and speaker, the audience is invited into a real-world situation. It gets the audience involved. And the more involved they are, the more they will listen to your message.
This TED Talk from James Veitch, for example, is one single story. It is specific and detailed, with key characters and funny anecdotes. And it makes a huge impact on the audience due to its hilarious effect.
Learn from others
Learn from how others make people laugh. What makes you laugh? What do you value in a funny speech or presentation? Sit down and watch a funny film or go and see a stand-up comedian. Really notice the timings and style that make a person funny. Be inspired by how they speak and behave for humorous effect. Take one of your favourite anecdotes and see if you can incorporate it into your presentation if you know it always makes your friends laugh. Just remember to keep on topic. Don’t force a joke into your speech if it isn’t relevant.
There are many funny presentations out there. Check out this article, 5 TED Talks That Are Funnier than Most of Today’s TV Comedies. It has a great list of brilliant TED Talks that got their audiences in hysterics.
Rewrite and practice
Rewriting, editing and practising are vital final stages for any presentation. In the case of funny presentations, these steps can turn yours from something vaguely funny to absolutely hysterical. Keep refining your jokes. Test them out on friends and colleagues. Then drop any jokes that don’t land well with others, even if you find them funny. Record your speech and adapt your delivery. Improve your timings and get as comfortable as possible with your content.
A free and easy mode of speaking is an important part of making a speech fun and natural. A lot of humour comes from the tone of your voice and expressions of your face and body. Work on these as much as your actual words. A combination of flowing body language and funny words can make a huge impact.
Tim Urban’s talk “Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” uses the clever comic form of cartoon-like drawings. While they might seem quite basic, he has clearly taken a lot of time to make them perfect. He has characters and specific references, all of which are relatable. And all of which make his presentation extremely funny. This use of slides is great for those who want to know how to make a funny PowerPoint presentation.
Lastly but most importantly, have fun! There is no point in writing a funny speech if you will just present it in a serious, deadpan way. If you want to know how to make a presentation funny, be happy and fun while you’re presenting. Let the audience catch onto your positive energy. It will encourage them to relax and laugh along. Use wide and open gestures. And smile! Find yourself humorous and let the audience know that this is a fun and comfortable presentation – not something serious and boring. Check out our article “Give better presentations by harnessing the power of positive psychology” for more information on positivity and productivity.
Shawn Achor is especially good at having fun on stage. You can see he feels comfortable and happy with his audience, jumping on their reactions to fuel the funniness of his speech. Check out his video “The happy secret to better work” for a perfect example of how to make a presentation funny.