You can conduct an otherwise informative presentation and still be as boring as watching paint dry and lose your audience because of your straightforward but dull approach. Your audience members want to be entertained as much as they want to learn something new. Nothing beats having a good belly-aching laugh while you work, so make your presentations funnier with time-tested material. Universally funny topics to include in your presentations are ones that make light of the mundane irritations and casual observations everyone has. A caveat — try not to offend. Chances are a mother-in-law or relative of a police officer will be in your audience.
Bad Bosses and Coworkers
You know that passive-aggressive boss who has slinked by your office 12 times since asking — 12 minutes ago — when that report would be finished. And that Negative Nancy in the next cubicle who hates her life and thinks you want to hear about it — in bits of 30-minute gripe sessions, four times a day. These are the stuff of humorous presentation topics. Your audience will be able to relate because no one is immune from having to deal with managers and fellow employees who drive you up the wall. Then there are the nonsensical office policies — like having to call your boss 24 hours before you take leave for an emergency — to which everyone can relate.
Family life can provide excellent fodder for presentations. The overbearing mother is a tried-and-true staple of side-splitting presentations. Your mom may not have been a tiger mom who would faint at the suggestion of your not wanting to play classical piano or violin, but she may have been a tiger in the bleachers of your Little League games. Don’t forget your quiet but stern dad, one cold piercing glance from whom can still make you almost wet yourself. Today, if you have children, you understand that becoming a parent is simply payback for all the horrible things you did to your parents. Your mischievous little ones have surely done something that you can tie into a lesson you’re trying to impart in your presentation.
High School and College Days
Maybe shining a light on your own checkered past might help bring some humor to your presentation. Surely, you crammed for an exam, then cheated and flunked the test anyway — at least once. Maybe you spent your days, like most, pining for someone who never even knew you existed. Perhaps you tortured a timid little nerd who later founded $500 billion international conglomerate and you’re wondering if you could get a date now.
Undoubtedly your audience can relate to a complete dependence on — and preoccupation with — technology, especially the Internet and social media. Perhaps you could get the audience to synchronize the buzzers on their smartphones to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Or you could start a topic, for example, asking who remembers where they were April 10 BF — before Facebook. You could take a poll and ask who watched the last episode of American Idol and compare the results with all those who have seen the samba-dancing baby, sneezing panda, or the World-of-Warcraft freak on YouTube.
The Real Power Point
Don’t be funny for funny’s sake. You need a clever way of tying your funny presentation topics to the business at hand, the take away. That's what makes a funny presentation a great presentation. Once you’ve mastered that art, you’re well on your way to being a sought-after presenter.
Angela Ogunjimi has been a prize-winning writer and editor since 1994. She was a general assignment reporter at two newspapers and a business writer at two magazines. She writes on nutrition, obesity, diabetes and weight control for a project of the National Institutes of Health. Ogunjimi holds a master's degree in sociology from George Washington University and a bachelor's in journalism from New York University.