If science events are to compete with other events available to the public as a night out, they need to be entertaining as well as informative.
Scientists may not be willing or confident enough to share their often-keen sense of humour with a public audience.
But injecting a little humour is worth experimenting with for a few reasons:
- Humour is a powerful social lubricant (and cheaper than beer).
- It helps cultivate our ability to think laterally, which is useful in science.
- It makes the evening more memorable for your audience.
A speaker who uses humour appropriately will engage the audience. This is as true for a scientific audience as it is for an audience of school kids.
Presenting to an engaged audience that is being entertained will also help calm your nerves.
4 top tips
- Tell an anecdote about yourself. For example: ‘I spend my time milking poisonous snakes for their venom. It’s a lot easier than milking cows.’
- Make a statement that has a double meaning. For example: ‘I belong to the world’s oldest profession’ (a line Jenni has used to start a talk about communicating science).
- Show a funny cartoon or image that links to the theme of your talk.
- Avoid telling jokes. They are difficult to tell well to an audience, are usually not relevant to the topic and are often discriminatory.