Create Common Ground with Humor

deliveryEver have to speak to a group that has many experts in its rank? It can make even a seasoned presenter feel uncomfortable. Here's how a senior executive used a bit of humor to diffuse his anxiety and create a connection.

After thanking his host for the fine introduction, he opened with these remarks: "As I look out into the audience and see so many experts in the field, it makes me feel like the old man I once heard about whose proudest experience was being one of the few to survive the famous Johnstown flood. Now except for his compulsion to tell anyone in earshot this story, he was a good fellow; so when he died, he found himself standing before the pearly gates of heaven.

"St. Peter welcomed him and asked if he had any particular request. 'Yes,' he replied. "I'd like to tell folks about my experiences surviving that Pennsylvania flood in 1889." 'We'll see,' said St. Peter. After awhile he returned and said, "We have it arranged. You are expected to speak on Cloud C this afternoon." The old man was thrilled. "But just one thing," said St. Peter. 'I want to warn you that Noah will also be in the audience.'"

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