Can You Laugh While Giving a Presentation?

Most people working in offices complain about boring presentations. By this, they mean attending boring presentations given by other people. Hardly anyone will admit to giving boring presentations themselves.

What can you do to liven up your presentations?

Can you make jokes and laugh during your presentation?

Yes, if you know how to use jokes! Here’s the catch – if you are deadpan serious and glum, people might find your presentation boring. But, on the other hand, if you laugh and make the wrong jokes in the wrong contexts, people will laugh at you rather than with you.

A sense of humour is the only divine quality of man”, Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher 1788-1860 said once. Humour has the quality of giving you an elevated perspective. You are not too bogged down by serious stuff. Humour relaxes people. Relaxed people start letting down their guard and are more approachable. This creates an atmosphere where positive human interaction is more likely than in strictly formal situations. A humorous speech or presentation energizes your listeners.

The most important thing in a presentation is connecting with the audience. Speakers who have presence and connect with the audience usually get their message across better. If you study successful speakers, you would notice that personal charisma, presence, skills for using emotional appeal, ability to use evoke powerful emotions and humour, are the marks of a great speaker.

Are Your Jokes Relevant to Your Theme?

Jokes should have at least some relevance to your theme or story. Jokes should bring some insight, perspective, or added value to any point that you are making. Telling a joke to just make people laugh and have fun is good but not enough if they can’t connect it to the context of your presentation.

So, consider carefully if jokes are suitable for the context of your presentation.

Are Your Jokes Suitable in that Culture?

In British and American cultures, audiences usually laugh along with the presenter. But, Japanese people think this is strange. In many cultures the locals may crack jokes about many things. Everybody rolls in laughter, but the moment a person from another culture makes the same joke, it may become a cultural affront.

In Thailand, the people are very easygoing and jolly. But you would offend people if you cracked jokes about the King or the Queen, whom the Thais respect very much. Finns have a sarcastic black humour about themselves. They tend to efface themselves by saying things like “We came down from the trees very short while ago.” Now if you continue on that theme, you make enemies. They want to be respected as warm, matter of fact and unsophisticated people and definitely not as tree dwellers. So, be very careful about what kind of humour or jokes you use in different cultures.

Tips for Using Jokes in Presentations

  1. Don’t laugh at your own joke before others start laughing. If no one else knows why and when to laugh and only the narrator is laughing; it’s pretty embarrassing.
  2. Don’t insult anyone. A person with an artificial eye may not think a blind man joke is funny.
  3. Avoid jokes about people’s skin colours, ethnicity, sexual orientation, height, weight, religion, or political views etc.
  4. Don’t repeat a joke during your presentation. Once should be enough.
  5. Do keep your jokes short. People have difficulties following long tales with subplots.
  6. If you tell a joke about yourself, it makes you more human and you get sympathy from audience members. Use this carefully.
  7. Don’t have too many jokes. If you have too many jokes, people might not take you seriously.

If you can, check your humour with a friend, mentor, or trusted person from the same culture as the audience. This helps you avoid cultural gaffes and give a wonderful and jolly presentation.

Enjoy your presentations!

Negotiation – A Profit Strategy

Negotiation is the most important business skill we’ll ever master, yet it is often among the missing in our profits tool box. We think of labor productivity, equipment, and techniques, as our stock in trade. Certainly, all these are mandatory resources to prosper in the business, but none have the single largest impact on profits, cash flow, and long term viability as negotiation does. 

Negotiation is a mixture of business arts and sciences that works best when viewed as a set of economic principles. This cost centered philosophy rejects the price obsession that characterizes the business world. 

Negotiation is not an argument over price 

The financial reality is that a buyer will pay a higher price if it buys a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Disagree? Let’s first distinguish between price and cost from the customer’s perspective. For example, suppose you can buy one of two units priced at $750 or $500. If low price is the deciding criterion, no question, the $500 unit wins. However, if the higher priced $750 unit lasts for 2 years and the lower priced $500 unit lasts for one year; the $375 TCO of the higher priced unit clearly makes it the better buy. Lowest TCO is by definition the best value.

Quality, Service, Delivery, and Price (QSDP)

Our negotiation mission is to consistently demonstrate how our lower TCO provides better value to customers. The four elements of cost always present in our negotiations are QSDP. Any cost impact can be slotted in one of these categories. A better trained work force is Quality cost advantage. Superior warranty due to better materials and design are Service cost advantages and a better schedule due to planning and personnel cost advantages constitutes Delivery savings to the owner. 

The most frequently cited, yet most elusive goal is to remove price a bargaining point from the negotiation table. It will happen when we focus our negotiation efforts on the lowest TCO for the customer.

Hot Potato tactic  

Instead of stressing lowest TCO in the work-a-day world, we fall prey to our own lack of negotiation skill. Here is how the customer out-negotiates us with the Hot Potato tactic. He invites you to his office to “negotiate”. He makes you comfortable, shares a little small talk, then looks into your eyes while intoning insincerely, “Your Quality, Service, and Delivery are all top notch or you would not have a seat at the table – so it call comes down to Price. What can you do?”   

In one smooth maneuver, the customer has buttered you up and crammed the Hot Potato of Price down your throat. If you swallow it whole, you may convince your self that the customer appreciates your higher value and “in this Price competitive market“, you must lower your price.   

He won everything, getting the lowest cost and a lower price. Negotiation is never just a matter of Price. Furthermore, for the same reason that we do not buy heart surgery from the lowest bidder (who even compares prices), the other cost advantages of QSDP are more important. Any professional buyer knows for an absolute certainly that she can always get a lower price. He also knows that a low price often come at a high costs.   

Strategy over Tactics

The uninitiated think of negotiation as the deft application of tactics and parrying of counter tactics. Certainly, that is part of it. But the focus on TCO yields far better results for these reasons:  

1.     The customer is best served by the lowest TCO

2.     TCO puts all four cost balls in play at the same time, giving us quadruple the negotiating power

3.     Everyone knows that higher quality comes at a higher cost – just ask that cardiac surgeon

Some customers will not care about lower costs and only want low prices. You must decide if you want this type of business for what ever strategic reasons you have. There will be customers that you do not want to serve. There is nothing wrong with that and indeed everything right with it. When we delude ourselves into thinking that we need the sale, or the cash flow, or other ways we convince ourselves to take a sale at a loss, no negotiation skill will rescue us from our selves. 

Be-Attitudes – Be the Present

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me – remember that song? It dates back before the 16th century. Originally, it was a secret code containing the basic teachings of the Christian Faith. The “true love” refers to God and “me” is everyone of the faith. And the 12 days started on Christmas, not before.

By the 16th century, some cultures combined festivals with the 12 days of Christmas to drive away evil spirits for the start of the new year. We’re going to do a rather loose version of this to drive away one evil spirit of stress for you each day for the next 12 days as our love gift.

One of the biggest stresses of the Holidays is buying presents for everyone.

* Who do you want to buy presents for?
* Who do you have to buy presents for?
* What do you get them?
* What do you get for the people who are hard to give to?
* Will they like the gift? What will they think of your gift and you?
* Will someone be hurt because you didn’t get them a gift?
* How will you pay for the gifts?
* When will you have time to do shop with everything else you have to do?
* How much money should you spend on each gift?
* How much do you think they are spending on you?

These are a few of the many questions that overwhelm us as we navigate the gift hurdle. The gift giving tradition came out of the story that the Magi, or the 3 Kings, found the baby Jesus in the barn and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And “On the first day of Christmas, my true love – God – gave to me – everyone of faith – a partridge in a pear tree – Jesus! Jesus was the gift.

Can you offer the gift of yourself, your presence, in the place of presents? How can you be more present to your family and friends instead of worrying of stuff? How can you just Be?

That is the first Be-Attitude I was given during a most extraordinary visitation from the Holy Spirit. I was asked to Be. The biggest gift of all is to simply Be. Be yourself. Your Eternal Self, free of stress, worry, fear and misunderstanding.

Modern life is very busy. It takes much time and effort to exist in the world. Managing the needs of life, money, work and shopping for presents can seem all consuming. Don’t believe it.

Carve out time to Be.

Make it a priority before all else, not the leftovers if there are any.

Be. Take the time to pray and meditate. Play with the children and the pets. Love each other.

Make your Presence the present.