The shocking truth is that babies laugh approximately 400 times a day whilst people over 35, only about 20 times. As we age it seems as though cynicism sets in due to strained working environments, home life stress and our living environments. The social benefit of laughter and humour includes relationship strengthening, enhanced teamwork, is a huge conflict diffuser and also gives us a chance to bond to our colleagues.
There is certainly a place for humour at your conference as well as your working environment.
Have you ever been to a conference where the guest speakers are dull and monotonous, it really is no laughing matter as you tend to nod off to sleep and wonder what is for dinner. Laughter in the presentation can boost engagement, wave off the boredom and encourage creativity and production.
You may have watched a couple of TED Talks and you will agree that the most engaging ones start with something witty and smart that grab your attention straight away. You remain engaged and listen attentively to what the speaker has to say. They are experts in their subject and often poke fun at themselves which humanises them allowing the audience to relate to them. Laughter creates a less stagnated environment and places people at ease, creating confidence in themselves which allows them to learn and ask questions.
Corporations understand that there is a place for laughter and humour in the workplace. Team builds are encouraged where people can interact in a light hearted and friendly competitive space. Have a peek at the way Google operates, a fun, friendly and cooperative working environment has shown what a company can do. We should encourage those of us in the business world to think about the power of laughter and factor it into how we communicate, allocate our time, and even recruit and hire
“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”
Humour is subjective so you must add it to your presentation with extreme care
A few suggestions to add humour at your conference:
- Share a funny self-deprecating story that may include some of the audience, laughter is catchy, so get one laugh and people will laugh along.
- If you don’t think you are funny be clever, sometimes that is good enough.
- Find common ground and poke fun at what everyone is worried about
- Be honest and real, everyone enjoys a funny personal story
- Laugh at yourself, it shows everyone that all is okay and they are free to chuckle
- Use innuendo and puns in your speech, they make for witty presentation
- Do avoid cursing, it may please some but it may offend others
- Be Politically Correct, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.
- Smile, if you smile the whole world smiles with you.
Speakers that use humour correctly will grab the audience’s attention immediately. Make sure you say your speech privately to at least three different colleagues and pay attention to their reactions. Tweak your speech and ask for suggestions, what you find humorous might be funny to everyone. When you are confident about your speech, get up on the podium and speak with confidence, it will have your audience wanting more.
“If you can learn the humour of a people and really control it, you know that you are also in control of nearly everything else.”