Pumping it Up a Notch

A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.
Mignon McLaughlin

Bringing it to the next level is something you can accomplish after feeling comfortable with all of the previous topics discussed. You can add the little touches that will produce a lot of value during your presentation.

Make Them Laugh a Little
Humor is a popular way to liven up a presentation. It makes the audience align with you, and sends a signal that you are in charge. Handled properly, humor enriches a presentation.

When considering humor, make sure that whatever content you choose meets four criteria:

  • You think the joke or lines are funny
  • You can repeat the piece confidently and comfortably
  • Your choice is not offensive to anyone (gender, race, age, disability, politics)
  • Your audience will understand and appreciate what you are saying.
  • A joke should have a punch line, delivered with all you’ve got.

Here are some tips for collecting and using humor:

  • Jot down jokes as you hear them in everyday life; classify them as your collection grows
  • Deliver any humor verbally only, and keep things light
  • Match your humor to the demographics of the audience
  • Research and consider using local humor if you’re working off-site
  • Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself.

If a joke or delivering humor with words isn’t within your comfort level, consider sharing a lighthearted cartoon, doing a simple magic trick, or doing something else that is unexpected and evokes a reaction and some emotion from the participants.

Ask Them a Question
Questions can be used in many ways, and at just about any time during your presentation.

  • As an opener
  • To check whether the desired learning is occurring, or to extend the learning experience
  • To diffuse a difficult or uncomfortable situation
  • To fill a long pause
  • To get a feel about the mood in the room.

As we learned in module four, Verbal Communication Skills, you can use open, clarifying, or closed, questions, depending upon your needs.

Encouraging Discussion
Much of the discussion during your presentation will be structured to fit with the learning exercises. If a remark or question is made during a discussion that is off topic or something that should not be dealt with at the time, you can always add it to the parking lot, and return to it during the wrap-up to bring closure.

Dealing with Questions
Q&A Sessions: If time permits in your presentation, you may choose to hold a general question-and-answer session. Since as the presenter you are in control, you can decide when to stop the discussion. In a large room, be prepared to repeat each question. If no questions arise, be prepared to ask one yourself.You can use an open question to begin the session: “What questions do you have?”Restating Negative Questions: If a question is phrased negatively, restate it. For example, “Why have so many of his staff displayed chronic absenteeism?” can be restated as “Let’s explore what we can do to reduce absenteeism in the team.”Off-topic: Don’t forget about the parking lot if you receive an off-topic question.Leveraging experience in the room: There may be situations when you wish to redirect a question to one of the participants. Again, you are in charge, so call upon someone and keep the discussion moving on afterward.The following exercise is a fun, light way to prompt a group to ask questions to tackle a project or a problem.