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The Terror of the Office Clown

Presenting yourself

A scary clown
Clowns aren't always funny

If your job is office-based, you will likely have sat through many hours of tedious presentations, watching your life slip away before your eyes.

What if we told you there was a way to stop boring presentations? Would you choose: -

  1. Only using presentations for topics that are aided by this discursive format

  2. Not forcing people who aren’t natural presenters to present

  3. Adding humour to your presentations to lighten the mood?

Ask your favourite search engine and thousands of experts will tell you that the answer is (3). They will tell you how to add humour to your presentations. They will explain why adding humour will make you more successful. They will provide listicles of jokes, anecdotes, quotes, and cartoons to make it easy for you to add humour to your presentations.

Humour isn’t something you can buy off the shelf. It also doesn’t solve the real problem with boring presentations.

Before you run off to rehearse your best knock, knock joke, consider the 7 truths of humour. They may not change your mind, but they may stop you from making a serious mistake.


The Facts of Fun

1. Humour is Spontaneous

Spontaneity – or the appearance of it – increases joke appreciation. When humour seems to have come from a spontaneous thought, it makes you appear fully engaged at that moment.

Conversely, people sense a planned joke like a fart at a funeral. We can hear the rhythm of the drum’s “boom, boom” as it leads to the cymbals' “tish” of the punchline.

Any laughter generated is the body’s natural reflex to your set-up. It is the laughter of Pavlov’s dog.

Professionals spend weeks rehearsing their delivery to make their humour sound unrehearsed. It seems counterintuitive. It isn’t easy. And it’s unlikely you are a professional comedian.


2. Humour is Personal

“If you are hesitant about sharing your own personal stories or are struggling to come up with material, you can always borrow material and pass it along.” 7 Ways to Use Humour in Your Presentation

This is bad advice.

Do not borrow material and pass it off as your own. Just don’t.

You aren’t writing a character-led sketch show. In a presentation, humour works best when it comes from you. It reveals something of your personality. It may just be that you can be humorous.

When you quote someone else, it shows you can repeat someone. It usually shows you can make humour less funny. You will get a better reaction to a worse joke if the joke comes from you.

Don’t. Do. It.


3. Humour is Private

The humour you add to your presentations will need to appeal to the widest possible audience. You may think a good barometer for this would be TV viewing figures.