Friday, September 1, 2017

Should I Open a Presentation With a Joke?

Steve Martin
An "ice breaker" is an activity in public speaking that is designed to immediately engage the audience and to get them ready to hear what you’re about to say. Many presenters attempt to “break the ice” by starting their presentation or speech with a joke. So, let's examine if that's really the best thing to do...
Why a Joke?
There’s a good reason that the established wisdom around public speaking tells us to begin with a joke. The right joke can get you off to a roaring start. It establishes common ground between you and the audience. It relaxes the audience and gives them permission to participate in the discussion. And it relaxes you. 

Getting a big laugh at the beginning of your presentation is tremendously reassuring. However, your audience will be made up of many people with different experiences and sensibilities. It's possible that some may take the joke out of context. In that case, the misplaced humor can come back to hurt you and your presentation.

Jokes NOT to Use
Sarcasm - This is generally used to mock someone or to give pain. Since that is typically not the primary goal of your presentation, do not use sarcasm in your presentations.

Offensive jokes - These are generally meant to offend and upset people. Because your audience is not attending your presentation to be offended, you should not make offensive jokes.

Jokes that require long, complex set-ups - If you have not yet bonded with the audience, they may not be willing to listen to a long set up. In some cases, these can confuse your audience, who may start wondering what your presentation is actually about.

Jokes That Can Work for You
Modest jokes - A light chuckle is often better than a failed belly laugh, especially at the presentation's beginning. Don’t feel like you have to bring the house down right way. Especially since you are actually not giving a presentation meant to be a big laugh.

Self-Deprecating jokes - These allow you to poke fun at yourself, and can work well at the outset. They express a certain level of trust you have in your audience, and you can show that you are accessible to them.

Gentle, topical jokes - Find a joke that relates to something that will already be on the minds of audience members. Jokes about the venue, a minor technical issue with your presentation, the theme of your topic, or a timely piece of pop culture should go over well.

In Summary
Humor is extremely powerful when used effectively. A good joke can loosen up your audience and make them more receptive to you as a person as well as to your message. Be aware that humor can have a negative impact on your audience. A bad joke can be worse than no joke at all, which can cause you to lose your audience before you really get started.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Social Media: A Real World Success Story

Who do you think recently is the most successful user of social media for professional promotion? Politics and political issues aside, I offer that President Trump is that person. Primarily, he uses Twitter as his platform of choice for communicating directly to his audience. However, 2nd to him might possibly be me!
I was recently interviewed for the "Secrets of College Planning" show on Princeton Community TV by Anthony Uva, the show's host. We discussed Information Technology topics that would be helpful to high school aged students looking to enter a college or technical school after completing high school. The broadcast date for my appearance was Friday, May 19, 2017. Since the broadcast, I learned that my appearance twice registered in the Top-10 list of broadcast views for Princeton Community TV shows in June and July. In fact, my appearance was the station's number 1 show for July. Why was that?

Princeton Community TV is a local television station with a dedicated following of viewers and show hosts. Being local community television, it of course has a relatively limited broadcast range and limited viewership. However, they do post their programs on their own Princeton Community TV Vimeo channel, making the shows available world wide via the internet. Vimeo is an internet based video hosting website which allows users to upload and share video content. That was my key to getting my show robust attention.

I used several social media platforms to announce my appearance on the show. My platforms of choice, which I regularly use professionally, are LinkedIn, Twitter, Email Marketing and blogging. In LinkedIn, I posted that I appeared on the TV show to my network connections, and to each of the LinkedIn groups where I am a member. I emailed my entire list of over 1,600 email contacts, and I tweeted. The result of my social media campaign increased viewership to my appearance on the show via Vimeo, I generate additional traffic to my own website, and I even received a few requests asking of my availability to speak with prospective clients.

Social media is a tremendous resource for growing your professional brand awareness and your business. When you have a presence on social media you are able to promote your professional brand by quickly sharing content with a wide audience. In addition, you make it easier for your customers to find and connect with you. Not only does social media help you direct people to your website, but the more social media shares & likes you receive, the higher your search engine (SEO) ranking will be.

Social media is a big topic and there are many relevant platforms. If you are new to using using social media, it may even seem overwhelming to start. But, it does not need to be. Think of the old joke, how do you eat a 1,000 pound elephant? The answer of course is, one bite at a time. So, start using social media in the same way. Start with only one platform. Use that for a while and until you get comfortable with it. When you are very comfortable, add another social media platform. As for which social media platform to start using, use the one that you determine your audience members (prospective customers) use. Also, look to use the one that your competition uses the most since they are already communicating with your prospective customers.

Click here to contact me regarding this or any other blog topic. Also, I welcome comments, which you can post below.