There’s a kind of joke in the world of professional speaking which goes like this…

Question: “To become a professional speaker, do your presentations have to be funny?”

Answer: “No – but they do if you want to get paid!”

This is, of course, an exaggeration.

However, it underlines the point that all presentations – even those on hugely serious subjects – will typically be more welcome if they contain at least an element of entertainment.

If this entertainment includes some well-judged humour, then so much the better!

When I work with groups and individuals in the business world to enhance their presentation skills, I point out that this same fundamental principle applies to them.

While you may not be seeking to get paid for your business presentations, they will typically be better received if they contain some carefully calibrated remarks on the lighter side.

Here follows a spectacular example!!!






I now have a new answer to a question related to the one asked above.

Question: “Will my presentations go down better if they contain some humour?”

My new answer is: “Yes – watch master speechmaker, Dawn French!”



This is because I’ve just had the joy of examining an amazing speech from the British comedienne and actress.

The speech was made on what’s traditionally a serious kind of occasion.

It was when Dawn French had the honour of being “installed” as the Chancellor of Falmouth University.




Falmouth is in the County of Cornwall in England’s remote south-west.

Cornwall is this bit highlighted in red!



The occasion of the chancellor’s installation was so serious it was held in a church – Falmouth’s seaside King Charles The Martyr.



Be aware that the church, begun in 1662, is way too old to have been named after the currently reigning King Charles III.



What was particularly impressive about the Dawn French approach inside this august church was that the audience clearly found much of her speech hilarious.

However, she also conveyed a couple of very serious points.

Now as a magnificently successful actress and stand-up comic, Dawn French has a big advantage over most of us.

She can draw upon her years of doing TV sketches with her comedy colleague Jennifer Saunders – clowning around on the BBC series French And Saunders.



Dawn French also benefits from her vast comedic experience as the star of the BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley.



Dawn French’s speech when she became Chancellor of Falmouth University is a masterly combination of BOTH humour and seriousness.

It starts with the irreverent comedy for which she’s known – and that her audience members everywhere have come to expect.

But she judiciously shifts tone at times to make serious points about the importance of The Arts – and the importance of fostering students of The Arts.

As an Arts graduate from the University of Technology, Sydney – and one-time lecturer for Arts students on UK campuses – I can assure you that Dawn French is right.

Equipping and promoting Arts students is something which Falmouth University is big on.

And Chancellor French’s conclusion combines both serious dedication to her new role – with a big dose of comedy to go with it.

So she’s effectively performing a comedy sandwich – funny at the start, with some serious filling in the middle, and a conclusion which is both amusing and profound.

Alas I can’t teach you – or teach myself – to be as hilarious as Dawn French.

And maybe even Dawn French isn’t clever enough to make you and me as funny as she can be!

But I can guide you and your business colleagues to understand how – by allowing yourselves to be more entertaining… and maybe even adding a touch of humour – you can enliven your business presentations.

Achieving this can make you and your audiences feel more at home when presenting!

So if you’re open to the idea that your presentations can contain entertaining elements – to grab attention and pave the way for serious messages – then check out the highlights of Dawn French’s first speech as a chancellor here.






If you’re interested in sessions on “Presenting With Confidence, Impact & Pizzazz” click on this link:

Of course, most presentations in the business world are not as long as Dawn French’s speech.

Quite often you can only get a very short time to make your point.

This can even be as little as a minute at some conferences and networking meetings.

It’s why I also run sessions on mini-presentations called “Your Message In 60 Seconds” – to help you make the most of short promotional opportunities.



Details of these sessions are at:

What follows is the video of a 60-second speech from a guy who’s telling his audience about conference sessions he runs on “Great Answers To Tough Questions”.

He’s addressing a gathering of the Professional Speaking Association where organisers are insistent that one-minute speeches should be exactly that.

So you can hear a starting ding at the beginning of the mini-presentation – and another gong at the close 60-seconds later.

You can witness his one-minute message at:


If you need information about sessions where this speaker helps audiences to Give Great Answers To Tough Questions, you can check them out at:

Meanwhile if you’re wondering how Dawn French is doing as Chancellor of Falmouth University after her comedic approach upon taking up the role, here’s a clue.

She’s proved to be so popular in the position – and so dedicated to it – that despite being installed “like a fridge” back in 2015, she’s still in post.

So Chancellor French is still very much alive and kicking – and, as promised in her speech, ready to fight rival celebrity chancellors and any others who get in her way!!!