Here are five reasons you should use humor - not only in your speeches, but in creating your 'communications experience' with those who are important to you.
1. It works. There is scientific evidence that laughter makes a big difference in people's emotions, and makes them more receptive. Look at this clip and be surprised. (It's 2 minutes - see it to the end to get the best.) LaughterYoga with Dr. Madan Kataria may seem far out, but it works. You can adapt the principles - it will make you smile, at least.
2. Surprise Broca. Courtesy Roy Williams, The Wizard of Ads. That's the area of our brain that craves stimulation for attention. Humor gives you a change of pace.
3. People buy from people they like. We stay in long term (selling) relationships with people we like, people who are fun to be with, and often funny. We do not buy anything from someone we don't like. And remember, whenever you give a speech or an important message, you are selling ideas. It's a shame so many presenters in business take themselves so seriously - and lose the human connection. It's their loss. Take your subject seriously, take yourself lightly.
4. It's not hard. Now I'm not a funny guy - so I have to work at putting some humor in my speaking. I don't tell jokes, and don't recommend anyone tell jokes (unless you are one of the 1 in 100 who can tell jokes well.) What I do is find the quick aside, or use funny video clips, or cute visuals, and definitely tell stories - often when the goat is yours truly.) Humor is one of our five SHARP Principles that enable people to communicate to influence.
5. You can learn. Humor is actually the toughest subject to teach (particularly if you're not funny.) I know there are a few good humor teachers, but usually those are geared to jokes and timing - there's a simpler way. Just do two things. First, find out what makes you laugh, then use it. Consciously, every day, work at it until it becomes a way of being. And secondly, smile. Simple as that - we get engaged by the friendly, smiling face, not by the frown. Think funny.
- Smile on the phone. We do so much on cell phones and with voice messages, be sure you smile as you talk. You can hear a smile - literally.
- Keep a humor journal for a week. If find you haven't put anything in it, maybe that tells you something. As you make entries you will see what makes you left, and bring it up to the conscious level, and use these things in your communications.
- Be creative in your PowerPoints. Not just cartoon art, although that works. But funny video clips, contrasts and counterpoints - the essence of humor - surprising Broca, and using humorous quotes in print. Look at Presentation Zen - a great blog and resource.
- Go back and look at that clip in point #1 again - feel the difference when you smile (or maybe even laugh.)
There are 4,234 laughing babies posted on Youtube. That tells us something. And here is a classic - if this laughing baby doesn't make you laugh out loud, you perhaps might take a look at your humor quotient. And reread this post from the top.
Keep on laughing...