Marshall Chiles – Your Presentation is a Joke

your presentation i a jokeIt’s kind of hijacking presenting and storytelling what Marshall Chiles does in Your Presentation is a Joke. The booklet (156 pages) aims to help presenters in a business context. We’re talking about sales pitches, visioning, strategic planning, project approaches and status reporting for example. According to Chiles all of it is a joke, and worth peppering with funny images (sorry, so 1996!) and trigger a laughter every now and then. The author splits humor (“safe comedy”) from comedy, and while bringing a lot of his personal experience from being a comedian to the business context, he’s warning for making jokes on sensitive topics, like religion, politics, specific groups, gender, etc. One thing I learn from a comedy performance in the Netherlands is that the comedian exclusively jokes about the topics I should be avoiding in a business context.

And while you must write your presentation without trying to be humorous, lots of effort is put on making it as likeable and engaging as possible with the use of humor. Yes, jokes lower the mental resistance, but if your presentation is remembered as a joke, you may wonder what the true intention and effect of your presentation is. I don’t agree with the statement: “Because humor is the highest form of communication and until you have the basics down, don’t try to play with the big kids. Humor is ideal for business presenters that want to go from a 5 or 6, to an 8 or 10, or to the corner office.” let alone the cheap advice: “If for some reason a joke falls flat, have a joke for that, too.” If you’re not funny, or the message you want to convey is bloody serious, an artificial sauce of jokes will do more harm than good to your reputation.

The author delivers no information on the cultural differences in understanding jokes, other media than the funny images, Apply with care to enrich your otherwise probably boring presentation.


About the author

Marshall Chiles started out in comedy likes most comedians… with a bad childhood. He knew at age seven he wanted to be a comedian and make people laugh for a living. At age 30 he started his comedy career and since then have been an international touring comedian who now owns comedy clubs and festivals.

He doesn’t pursue stand-up like most of his friends because he is married with two kids and he has no desire to go on the road telling jokes for $100/show. He’s got bills to pays!  So these days he calls himself a comedy entrepreneur because he focuses more on the business side of comedy… although he will always do stand-up because making people laugh is the best feelings in the world. He should know, he has been able to do it like four times.

He founded Humor Wins in 2014 as a way to bring value to organizations with his knowledge of comedy and business. He now speaks to business leaders all over the country teaching them how to pepper their presentations with humor to increase business engagements and likability.