Fun is Incredibly Powerful in Presentation

I thought this post would be the easiest to write, in the series of Six Trends in the Future of Presentations.

Incredibly hard! I’ve been struggling with it for one week…

Overexcited nerd

What is Fun? Is putting a silly hat and making jokes fun? Mmmm, NO!

(By the way,the title of this picture is fun “overexcited nerd”)

What is NOT Fun? Serious-Hard-Tedious-Soporific-Moralistic-Preaching-Self-centered-Righteous-Perfection-BORING!

Why is Fun so hard? It’s because it’s often unpredictible. If I tell you I’m going to write a post about fun , I find myself seriously paralyzed by the injunction I need to find funny stuff to say…

Why is it so powerful in presentation? It makes us human and alive! And we’re craving for humanity in our virtual world…

What is Fun? Fun is the “E” in TED. Fun is Entertaining.Fun is humour. Fun is play. Fun is light. Fun is creative. Fun is joy. Fun is freedom. Fun is free!

Here are The TED Commendments – Rules that every speaker needs to know, thanks to Tim Longhurst.


  1. Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick
  2. Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before
  3. Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion
  4. Thou Shalt Tell a Story
  5. Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy
  6. Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
  7. Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods,
    thy Writings, nor thy Desparate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast
    Aside into Outer Darkness.
  8. Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
  9. Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
  10. Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee

What is NOT fun? You would think statistics, graphs, data, figures are not fun.Or announcing the decline of Occident.Think again!Have you ever heard and watched Hans Roesling talk about statistics and the rise of Asia?


So you’ve got it. Anything can be fun, entertaining. Even the most boring business report.

Why is Fun so hard? Especially when we’re speaking in public.

  • Hey,
    we want to be taken seriously!
    We present our personal selves in front
    of others, publicly…at work!
  • Work is supposed to be a serious place, (Working is for adults-Playing is for Children…)
  • We don’t want to make a fool of ourselves!
  • We want to be in control and “masters” of the situation!
  • We’re supposed to be the Experts…
  • We don’t want to show the others that in fact…we don’t know
  • We are afraid of humiliation in front of our peers

Why is fun so powerful in presentations? And especially online?

“Le rire est le propre de l’homme” Rabelais Laughter is unique to man said Rabelais(and not” laughter is the cleanser of man”, like I found in Wikipedia!)…although laughter can clean the soul…

When we’re funny and making people laugh, we are saying:

“Hey! I am a human being! Just like you!”

We make mistakes. We fail.We’re authentic. REAL. VULNERABLE. ALIVE.
Opposed to the remote and virtual perfect image on our desktops…

Fun has become part of our life, personally, socially and professionally.

What are you waiting for?

When you prepare for Your Next presentation:

  1. Make it Simple
  2. Make it Short
  3. Make it Personal
  4. Make it Interactive
  5. Make it Collaborative
  6. Make it Fun!

And I’m still working hard on point 2!

Bonus! If you are a presenter and want to learn more about Making Presentation Fun, join Lisa Braithwaite‘s  Ning Network at  Speak Schmeak

You will find, among many others, Olivia Mitchell, Steve Cherches, Cliff Atkinson, Rich Hopkins,Tony Ramos sharing stories on what they have done to add fun to a presentation.

You can share your own stories right now, in the comment box just for you!

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve

Have Fun!

18 thoughts

  1. Great post, Marion! The list of “why is fun so hard?” is right on. In business, we’re supposed to be SERIOUS. In order to give information the SERIOUSNESS and IMPORTANCE that it deserves, we must not ever have a good time during a presentation!
    It’s so ridiculous to write or say out loud, yet this is the attitude of countless business presenters around the world. Let’s change things, Marion! And thanks for the plug for the Speak Schmeak site. We need more people sharing their ideas for fun presentations.

  2. I’m fully with you that it’s handy to have in presentations. Essentially, it’s going to make things more memorable if it’s fun.
    For me, though, it’s important to differentiate between fun and ‘funny’. Too many people try and do the latter – and usually fail – without realising that there’s a world of difference.

  3. This was an awesome post! So glad Lisa RT-ed it, or I’d have missed out. Seriously doudted I was going to last a whole 15+ minutes listening to a presentation about statistics and Asia, but I was glued after about 30 seconds.

  4. Another great post Marion…!
    I love Hans Rosling’s presentations, and really like Peter Bregman’s articles too.
    Thanks as well for the mention! The *funny* thing is… I actually don’t have a problem/challenge with fun. It’s probably my default mode, and it’s incredibly helpful to me as a facilitator/trainer.
    My challenge is… I actually have to make an effort to reign it in sometimes, for the same reasons you mention above. Fun creates a great environment for learning, but we (I) sometimes need to find a balance to still be perceived as knowledgeable, credible, and be able to maintain control.
    That said, I think it’s part of our jobs to infuse fun into our presentations, our workshops, our work, and our lives.
    Thanks for spreading the good word…!!!

  5. Hi Marion,
    Great final post for this year… I’m also a reader of Rabelais (in French, it is my mother tongue) and I try to apply his mottoes in real life, which is not so easy sometimes.
    I’m also a coach and a adults trainer. I always try to have fun and to share it with my audience. I hate to get bored and I sense everybody does. A great training session is one with plenty of laughter and smiles. When everybody can feel the energy circulating between the participants.
    Keep on having great fun with your audience, Marion, and enjoy a great and happy year 2010.

  6. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Marco Bertolini submitted a comment on "Fun is Incredibly Powerful in Presentation"
    Bonjour Marco, it’s great to have readers who speak so many languages!Un grand merci pour ce commentaire joyeux et enthousiaste.
    Ah…Rabelais…! What a fantastic writer and humanist!
    Looking forward to connecting with you in 2010 and sharing stories , laughters and smiles…

  7. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Steve Cherches submitted a comment on "Fun is Incredibly Powerful in Presentation"
    Hi Steve, Thank you for your joyful and very personal comment!
    No wonder we get along so well, in spite of the distances! Your sense of FUN is contagious, you must have been immersed in the magical potion when you were a baby Steve, just like Obelix (you know Obelix and Asterix, don’t you?)
    I agree that it can be quite a challenge to be taken seriously when you’re a natural…clown!
    Tonight, that will be perfectly appropriate however!
    Have fun on New Year’s Eve!
    (send a pic, so I can add it in my next post! 🙂

  8. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] SonyaJMills submitted a comment on "Fun is Incredibly Powerful in Presentation"
    Thank YOU, Sonya.Isn’t this TED presentation by Hans Roesling awesome? He’s the math and science teacher we all dream of!
    Happy you stopped by thanks to Lisa. The more the merrier! 🙂

  9. Terrific post Marion!
    I agree with Steve about finding the balance. Another aspect is, it takes time and lots of practice to make the planned funny parts seem natural.
    Hans Rosling is extraordinary and just smart enough to know that when people are laughing they’re listening. Who knows how my math skills would develop if I have had such a teacher?
    The obvious – a person has to have something to say, because being funny without a function is being funny only. Nobody benefits, except your muscles. Although I admit sometimes it may be its function as well. As you said we want to be in control of everything during a presentation, but things happen and we cannot be at times. No worries, even the best speakers sometimes are not in control

    In this case the things that save Steve Jobs are: going on plus being…funny. Well, communicating it outside to be honest.
    As I said, great post and have fun writing the next one!

  10. Thank you Lisa for your very enthusiastic comment!
    I’m very happy to share ideas and stories with you on Twitter, on our blogs and on the Ning Site you created.
    I bet your next book is going to be successful!
    It seems to be a lot about Giving Ourselves the Permission to enjoy while taking our talk seriously.
    You certainly give yourself this permission, Lisa!

  11. Hi Simon and thank you for your specific input.
    True, fun and funny are two different worlds and the frontier is delicate…
    Maybe the more one “tries” to be funny, the less one becomes?
    The magic happens at the intersection between great (and “serious”) preparation and last minute improvisation.
    It requires to be fully aware of what’s going on, intensely present and alert.
    Quite a challenge!

  12. This was the problem over and over again as I worked in very “serious” nonprofits, like nonprofits trying to stop domestic violence.
    Maybe it was wrong, but I set myself the question, how can I make domestic violence funny?
    If Richard Pryor can make setting himself on fire while completely high on heroin funny, there’s got to be a way that I can make this cause funny.
    I have made many outreach and fundraising presentations over the years, and I’ve tried to make them as short and funny as possible. Think like Hemingway. Try to make every 3 syllable word a two syllable word, and try to make every two syllable word a one syllable word. Ruthlessly cut your presentation until you can scroll through it and get the major details and jokes without straining.
    Now, you might say, “Mazarine, there is NO WAY that Domestic Violence can EVER be funny.” And I would say, “Perhaps not. But I’m going to try.” This is one of the benefits of pissing people off. You get talked about. Which is one of the points of nonprofit marketing anyway.
    Examples of presentations I’ve made funny

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