Tuesday’s Teaching Tip: 6 Safe Ways to Use Humor

I recently led a group of employees to read the book Talk Like TED. It’s a summary of the nine best practices of the top TED Talk presenters. I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who speaks in front of groups. It will help you in the workplace, and it will help you as you lead your Bible study group.

One of the common characteristics of the best presenters is their use of humor (chapter #6). But they aren’t acting like stand-up comics. In fact, just the opposite. They’ve learned that telling jokes often backfires.

So if laughter is good, how is a presenter supposed to create a bond between himself and his audience without taking the chance that a joke falls short? There’s nothing worse than telling a joke you think is funny, only to hear the “cricket-cricket” when you pause after telling the punchline.

It’s important that you use some humor, because people warm up to you and your ideas faster than without it. The human brain loves laughter and humor. How can you make your presentations more engaging without being too “canned”?

Here are 6 ways to include humor in your Bible studies without taking a big risk personally:

  1. Show a cartoon
  2. Tell a short story
  3. Read a quote (Mark Twain is great to quote!)
  4. Display a photo
  5. Show a short video clip
  6. Make an observation

Remember, if something makes you laugh, it will probably make others laugh, too.


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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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