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“3 Men Walked Into A Bar…”

Whilst we acknowledge that the business of conferences is serious, who ever said that conferences themselves had to be so? In fact, there’s a lot of research around the fact that having fun whilst learning (experiencing positive emotions) leads to better engagement and retention of the subject matter.

That’s not to say an event should digress into an unstructured gag fest; carefully managed and encouraged, injecting humour into an event could make the difference between an “okay” event and one that is truly memorable and remarkable.

Practically speaking, it's not about a presenter doing the equivalent of an open mic night at your local bar in lieu of an actual presentation. Sometimes it’s just about giving your presenters permission to inject their personality into their sessions. Or it could involve using a facilitator/chairperson with more than just an ability to guide an audience through the programme, but have some fun along the way!

In our experience introducing some humour into a presentation is a great way to create a connection with the audience. It takes away the tension of a serious subject and helps reveal a little bit of the presenter’s authentic self.

Better yet, a humour-laced session creates a great conversation opener afterwards. “Didn’t you love that session on…” immediately brings down barriers and helps create common ground for participants.

Don’t try this at home

Okay, some words of caution are clearly necessary here. The benefits are clear, but done poorly or inappropriately it can easily backfire. Humour can become a landmine in a setting with a cross-cultural audience for example, where the nuances of colloquialism might not be appreciated or understood – thereby diminishing an otherwise credible event.

That said, in the right hands, the use of humour can be an important component in ensuing the participant journey achieves the objectives set out to be achieved. Why not give it a go?

- Team UC

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