Here are some things to think about when you’re using humor in the workplace:
- Be kind. Don’t make jokes at anyone else’s expense. Even if your client looks exactly like Screech from Saved by the Bell, refrain from making any jokes about his alleged years at Bayside, Kevin the Robot, or Lisa Turtle. For one thing, it’s likely he’s heard them before. More importantly, mean-spirited jokes are never a good idea, especially in a professional setting. If you must make jokes at someone’s expense, make them at your own.
- Your wit should be sparkling … clean: It might go without saying, but you should obviously not use offensive language or topics in workplace humor. If you have to ask, it’s probably not appropriate. It’s always best to err on the side of caution. Just use your best judgment. If you have terrible judgment, ask someone else. (Food for thought: If you have terrible judgment, do you KNOW you have terrible judgment?)
- Avoid touchy subjects: Since you’re already keeping it clean, this shouldn’t be hard to do. If you’ve done your research, you should know what topics are controversial within the company or community you’re presenting to. But some topics are nearly always taboo, like politics and religion. Avoid them and you should be just fine.
- Maintain your focus: While it can be easy to get carried away, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Make sure there’s enough meat in your presentation for the client or audience to have some serious takeaways. You want them to have fun, but you don’t want them to think your presentation was full of fluff, no substance. (mmm, fluff.)
Don’t worry – adding caution won’t suck the fun out of your humorous presentations! Rather, it will make them more focused, sharp, and ideally, more apt at getting people to buy what you’re selling.