Connections - Summer 2016 - (Page 21)
The Humor Rules
How to Be Funny,
BY MARSHALL CHILES
WHEN CHOOSING A speaker for your
event, or when you are the speaker,
you want your attendees/audience
to feel engaged, to learn something
new and to have a great experience.
Unfortunately, too many presenters
are like stale robots whose greatest
contribution is getting their
audience to look at their phones.
Most presenters have a long way
to go when it comes to engaging
an audience. The best presenters
use humor effectively because, at
the end of the day, speaking is a
performance. And as a performer,
you can entertain with drama
or comedy. Unless your goal is
to upset the audience, I submit
that humor is the key ingredient
to being a great presenter.
If you Google putting humor in
presentations, 80 percent of the
articles are telling you not to do it
because you might offend someone
in the audience and then get in
trouble. After years of writing
jokes for business presenters,
I have come up with the formula:
Comedy + Business = Humor.
If you want to be funny in a
presentation, then you need to do
humor because humor is just safe
comedy. I have figured out the six
rules that if you follow, you will not
offend 99 percent of your audience.
The other 1 percent you probably
don't want to work with anyways.
I suggest encouraging your
speakers to use humor as long
as they follow these rules:
1. Do not make fun of any person or
group of people. This means don't
make fun of nationalities, races,
genders, etc. This rule is especially
true for making jokes about
Germans. Remember, they took on
the world twice and almost won.
2. Keep it above the belt. Even
though you didn't say a
dirty word, just referencing
anything below the belt
can rub some people the
wrong way. Pun intended.
3. Don't make any drug references.
You might think it's funny that
you have three DUIs, but I assure
you Human Resources does not.
4. Stay away from religion and
politics. These topics are
extremely divisive. And besides,
nobody is more correct about
religion and politics than you
and your Facebook friends.
5. Stay away from violent words.
Remember, you're adding humor
in order to make people feel good.
So don't bring up words that are
associated with the violent images
because you make people feel
uncomfortable with the image they
now have in their head. Examples:
Holocaust. ISIS. September 11.
Notice how those words affect
you in your own head. Be nice and
don't do that to your audience.
6. Stay away from unsafe subjects.
If you are a CEO and you
make a joke about layoffs,
you are going to have people
updating their resumes.
These are the rules for you
to break as you wish. As Pablo
Picasso said, "You must first
learn the rules so you can
break them like an artist."
Do you notice the one
missing rule? The missing
rule is no cursing. Nowadays
some cursing is acceptable
for internal communications
since you know the culture.
But if you break any of these
humor rules during an external
presentation, you might just offend
somebody because you never
know who's in the audience.
The other day my 7-year-old
son got in trouble for saying
the f-word at school. He was
talking to his classmate and told
him that he did not know what
the "f" he was talking about.
His teacher was standing right
behind him and yelled "Nolan!"
Nolan turned around, looked
up with wide eyes and said,
"I didn't know you were there."
If you're trying to be funny
in a business presentation,
make sure you follow the
humor rules because you never
know who's there.
Marshall Chiles spoke at the
2016 GSAE Annual Meeting and
is the founder of HumorWINS.
He loves comedy, education
and business ... but not always
in that order. Learn more at
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Connections - Summer 2016
Message from the Chair
GSAE News & Events
Keeping Up with Technology
Achieve More by Connecting the Dots for Your Association
5 Ways to Meet Virtually
How to Enhance Your Events with Mobile Games
Overtime Rule Released: How Associations Can Prepare
The Humor Rules for Business Presenters: How to Be Funny, Not Offensive
ATHvengers Assembled at the GSAE Annual Meeting
GSAE’s July Luncheon: Photos
Meetings Thought Leadership
Destination: The Emerald Coast
Choices: Beyond Mentoring
Index of Advertisers
Connections - Summer 2016