By Christina Kettler
Tips to Help You Lighten Up
“I hate to laugh,” said no one ever.
“I love watching someone read uncomfortably from a script,” said no one again.
“I can’t get enough of 86-slide PowerPoint presentations!” said no one except for maybe the PowerPoint team at Microsoft.
Why do so many of us do the very things that make people cringe or tune out during presentations?
Presentations Are About Connecting
As someone who sits through many presentations, I often wonder why more people don’t try to connect with their audience through laughter. After all, it’s basic human instinct to laugh. Psychologist and laugh therapist Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, says infants laugh almost from birth. That means it’s not a learned behavior. Humans were laughing before speaking. It’s our go-to social interaction tool.
Check out what Time columnist Joel Stein has to say about how “Humor is Serious Business.” He’s got loads of interesting info and stats to share such as how “laughter sparks the release of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates social bonding, increases trust and quickens self-disclosure.” Joel also notes, “When it comes to non-strangers, shared moments of laughter help facilitate closeness down the line.” Plus, “humor also increases power through memorability.”
Ha! Ha! Ha?
Like the idea of bringing laughs to your audience to help them release oxytocin and increase their memory about the valuable info you’re presenting to them? Tap into your funny bone and find inspiration by watching these 13 funny talks from TED presenters. Next, check out “23 Tips from Comedians to Be Funnier in Your Next Presentation.”
Maybe you’re just not funny. Ever. No problem. All you really want to do is connect with your audience. Read the TED Talks Official Guide to Public Speaking. The key is to discover your own voice and style. Oh, and be sure to pepper in a few anecdotes and stories because they make the facts and info you share more meaningful. If you’re presenting for your company, see if they’ll pay for a coach like Soness Stevens.
If all of this feels wrong and you can’t imagine standing in front of a crowd presenting with lighthearted humor or connecting with the people in front of you on any human level, maybe presenting isn’t for you. There’s nothing wrong with identifying your shortcomings. Take a note from the business world and outsource. Hello, actors and improv troupes! Or heck, you can even hire dancers to perform your PowerPoint. If this feels out of your comfort zone, remember how comfortable people feel when having to watch someone read off bullets from an 86-slide PowerPoint.
Be brave and do something different. Your audience will reward you for it.