Failed humor + professional presentation can = Yikes.
Humor and presentation skills go hand in hand. That is, until they don't. Recently, we shared Element Three's great article on humor. (You can find it here.) We were so inspired by their well-crafted musings on one of our favorite topics that we had to chime in and share some of our humor tips. So, here they are. Sure, you might think some of them go without saying. But trust us- they need saying.
1. Taking the new joke out for a spin: Avoid telling a joke you've never told before. You know who thinks this is a good idea? Everyone's crazy uncle at Thanksgiving. Think about the hours of listening to Uncle Bill meander his way through a new joke over turkey and awkward looks. Picture Uncle Bill- now burn a neural pathway in your brain to his face so any time you are tempted to toss a joke into a presentation that you've never uttered before, you immediately see blotchy red cheeks and smell gravy.
2. The joke you don't get: You might think this is not so bad. SOMEBODY thinks it's funny, right? You also might be wrong. And by "might", we mean "definitely". Don't tell it. Seriously. Don't. If you know it's supposed to be funny for some reason, but you're not quite sure what that reason is, run in the other direction.
3. The inappropriate attempt: If Andrew Dice Clay is still your comedy ideal (and really? Still?!), you might want to review your material again. If the humor is at all inappropriate, don't. Please, just don't. If you have to lead in with "Hey, we're all adults here, right?", extra don't. Remember that time your old boss told that dirty joke in the conference room and then he wasn't your old boss anymore? That. And more.
4. The Set-Up for Failure: "That reminds me of a really funny joke...", you say. "Don't tell me how to live, buddy!", thinks your audience, "I'll be the judge of that!" Then they put on their little hats of judgment and measure your humor against what they think is funny. Sure, they may be thinking, "He's no Andrew Dice Clay." (Again?!) Regardless, what they're not thinking about is your witty repartee. The pin is in the humor balloon once you announce how funny you're about to be. Just go! The funniest folks just go with it.
5. The tangential ramble: Cut to the chase! Please! Regardless of the fact that part of your joke reminds you of your third grade teacher, don't tell us mid-stream. Humor works best with a through-line. Once you deviate from that, we lose you AND the funny.