On jokes and presentations

On jokes and presentations

I just learned the hard way to never put jokes in a speech, especially if it is recorded and you intend to share the video afterwards.

It is already a year since I volunteered to become Science Communication Officer for the COST Action RESTORE. In February 2018, RESTORE and ABUD organized a conference in Budapest. Because of my position, I had few minutes to speak about collaboration opportunities, scientific communication and dissemination of results.

At one point, I used very peculiar combination of words that sounded like a pitch for some kind of tech product. Hardly an issue, but in the context of my talk, it sounded awkward. I improvised a joke to disarm the mistake. The audience got it, people laughed, everything seemed to be fine.

Unfrotunately two weeks later, after watching the video of me presenting, I found that this seemingly innocent joke did not really help. My attempt to repair the damage now appears rather unfitting and the video is not really publishable. So, I learned in a painful way that jokes belong to stand-up comedies and almost nowhere else. In professional environment, jokes (especially improvised ones) will usually weaken your performance, and the bad ones will simply make you look foolish. Avoid.

Obviously, I am not going to show you my presentation, but all the other speakers are featured on the COST Action RESTORE YouTube channel.