OK, it's official. I'm in love with David Pogue.
Oh, sure, he's got a great tech column in the New York Times. Sure, he's a geek among geeks. Sure, he's a great writer.
But I have this enormous weakness for people who burst into song for no reason. And in front of a huge audience, no less.
And he did, in this video of a presentation he gave for TED on Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen blog, which led me to realize what an incredibly engaging presenter he was. He had me (and his live audience for this talk, we can see from the video) eating out of his hand from the get-go. Talk about an engaging presentation; I was laughing out loud just at the video!
And this after I'd read Kathy Sierra's post in the Creating Passionate Users blog about making things fun. Boy, howdy, did David do that, and more!
So this set me thinking... how exactly does one go about making one's talk fun? Tell a joke? Tap-dance? What about those of us who can't play the piano and burst into a side-splittingly funny song about how Microsoft sucks? I mused for a bit, because while I can point out examples of engaging presentations and effective presentations left and right, I have a confession to make:
I can't tell a joke to save my life.
(I do know one joke that I can tell. It involves string, a bar and a very bad pun. But I won't tell it here. After all, it's my only joke.)
My presentations are interactive and engaging. (I am proud of the fact that I added some frisbee-throwing into the last client presentation, which brought smiles and outstretched hands every time.) But are they fun? What is "fun"? If I have to tell jokes or sing brilliant parody songs in order to be fun, I'm dead!
But Garr also made an excellent point in his blog posting--bring out your inner presenter. It's in there somewhere. There is a way in which YOU speak from the heart that is going to be engaging, whether you are telling a joke or not. The point is not to convey the information; a handout could do that. The point is to bring your audience along on an experience.
So don't tell a joke if it's not you; I certainly can't. But I can ask questions. I can use a bit of self-deprecating humor. I can chuckle (I do this a lot in real life). I can pause and raise my eyebrows (also done a lot in real conversations). I can hand out the product and let the audience see, hear, touch, smell and taste it. I can have a great time presenting and trust that my audience will, too.