Making Jokes During a Presentation Helps Men But Hurts Women

Most people want to know how they can effectively present ideas and be persuasive at work. A common piece of advice for presentations and winning over audiences is to be funny. For example, bestselling author of Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds and communications coach Carmine Gallo says, “Humor lowers defenses, making your audience more receptive to your message. It also makes you seem more likable, and people are more willing to do business with or support someone they like.” This advice has been echoed by a number of other authors.

On the surface, this seems sound. Plenty of research shows that leaders who use humor are able to increase their employees’ performance and job satisfaction. Hearing something funny or being amused can reduce stressimprove social relationsgenerate a positive mood, and increase motivation. Overall, humor appears to produce positive consequences for both the source and the audience.

However, our research suggests that the benefits of humor do not extend to everyone — women may actually be harmed by using humor at work. We find that when men add humor to a business presentation, observers view them as having higher levels of status (that is, respect or prestige) within the organization, and give them higher performance ratings and leadership capability assessments compared to when they do not include humor. However, when women add the same humor to the same presentation, people view them as having lower levels of status, rate their performance as lower, and consider them less capable as leaders.

Read the full article @ Harvard Business Review

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