It can be difficult to put yourself front-and-center of a presentation or meeting. Who hasn't had a completely valid question in the middle of a meeting, but ended up asking it later to avoid some sort of strange social embarrassment?
Breaking the ice can be hard. There's a chance you have never spoken to any of the people on the conference before, and you don't really know where to begin. I've heard the phrase "Open with a joke" before, but I never really considered it.
Humor can lighten the mood and diffuse tension in the room. Because laughter really does improve your health, you'll boost everyone's endorphins by cracking a well-placed joke. Anytime you're going to use humor you should follow a couple of simple rules.
Be sure that your joke is relevant to the topic. Not only do you want it to get everyone to loosen up a little, but you also want it to be a good opener to the subject you are discussing. Don't forget that you're still in a business setting. This brings me to my next tip. Make sure that your joke is not offensive to anyone. Sticking to a nice generic joke (or even something you come up with on your own) is a safe bet. Run it by someone.
Do you use humor in your conferences? If you do, what made you come to the decision and how do you determine what's a good ice breaker?