Picture the last seminar you attended. I’ll venture to guess it looked something like this: Classroom seating with everyone looking at the back of someone else’s head, a podium, a handout with four slides to a page, and a presenter walking you through a series of Powerpoint slides.

If you haven’t already nodded off, I’ve got some good news to share with you. Seminars can be fun AND productive. Humor cements learning. Humor can be fun. Therefore, learning can be fun. (My apologies to the logisticians reading this.)

Granted, some presenters use humor in inappropriate ways (I’ll refrain from giving specific examples, I do have my reputation to mind). Some simply aren’t good at telling jokes and they bomb. Regretfully, these are the people who also do not know that you must always acknowledge the bomb in some way. Occasionally I have come across a presenter who seemed to have a running inside joke going with a participant or two. None of this is fun.

What can be fun and productive is a presenter who is genuine and doesn’t try too hard to be funny. People often have a natural sense of humor and when used properly, it can be very powerful. Here’s an example I used with a group this morning: I presented a list of skills that managers can use to get results and build commitment. To make the point that the skills have to be used consistently for them to work, I said it’s like going to the gym to get in shape – I joined one three months ago and went twice, and still no six-pack. Bah-duh-bump. It got a laugh, it made the point, and nobody got hurt. Except my pride, because it’s a true story.