Tuesday Teaching Tip: Don’t try to be Jerry Seinfeld

Today’s teaching tip is all about the use of humor in your “presentations.” I recommend the book Talk Like Ted to you – it contains the 9 secrets of the best Ted Talk presenters, and humor is one of the common characteristics of good public speakers.

Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously. The brain loves humor. Give your audience something to smile about…Humor lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you more likable… (p.180)

But the use of humor comes with a warning! As the author says, “Don’t try to be Jerry Seinfeld.” Leave the stand-up routines to the professionals, but do infuse your presentations with some humor. Here are several safe ways to cause people to grin, smile, and laugh – which helps them warm up to you and your message:

  1. Display an image – let the picture make the people laugh
  2. Show a video clip – choose a funny moment from a movie or other source and let it create the humorous moment
  3. Share a quote – use someone else’s words to create the funny moment
  4. Tell a personal story – let the audience know you make mistakes and are human
  5. Make an observation or share an anecdote – point your audience to the obvious – or not so obvious – to create humorous moments


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