I’m a HUGE fan of humor in communications. It keep conversations upbeat, helps to cultivate relationships in a unique way, and forces you to not take yourself too seriously. Because who wants to be around a perpetual SpongeBob-Serious-Pants?
To get to the nitty gritty of comedy and how we can apply it to everyday business practices, I tapped my good friend, funny gal and CEO/Founder of Comediva, Erika Cervantes. Below are five ways to harness humor and enhance otherwise ho-hum activities during your workday and beyond.
#1 – Make Lists
Everyone loves a list (including the Internet itself). Plus, lists are a great way to turn dull internal communications into fun, highly consumable memos. For example, check out this mock email:
Due to a recent outbreak of Comic Sans, we are instating a new policy. Here is a list of approved intra-office memo fonts:
3) Times New Roman
*Never Papyrus” (Because we are not a Trader Joe’s product.)
In all seriousness, though, we really DO only want you to use Helvetica or Calibri. It’s a stylistic preference that will help us communicate with each other effectively, etcetera.
Thanks, as always, for your hard work!
Everyone’s Favorite Manager
#2 – Say “Yes, and…”
Improvisational comedy is all about finding the “funny” in the moment. The basic tenets of improv — which are really just great communication skills — involve saying yes, listening, and thinking on your feet.
Imagine a business world where you say yes to an idea and build upon it rather than shooting it down from the get-go. (Nice picture, huh?) Next time you’re planning one of those warm-and-fuzzy team-building events, think about making it an improv class. After all, what could be funnier than watching your coworkers play keep-away with an imaginary ball?
#3 – Make the First Joke
To be honest, jokes can sometimes slow down meetings. But placed wisely, they can be a great way to diffuse tension, communicate feedback, and skate through awkward moments.
Imagine you’re watching a boring industry panel. Four panelists sit awkwardly at the front of a room, passing along a microphone, introducing themselves with their standard spiel. Your eyes are already glazing over. But suddenly, the third panelist nonchalantly cracks a joke about how the microphone smells a little like spit when she introduces herself. Laughter erupts from the crowd. For the remaining forty minutes, all eyes are on her — the audience wants to hear her opinion and her comical insights.
If you control the laughter, you control the room.
#4 – Embrace Public Speaking Like Stand-Up Comedy
Stand-up comedians are some of the bravest people in the world. They have to be nutso to get onstage and welcome criticism, ridicule, and utter public humiliation.
In business, every presentation or public speaking engagement holds potential for a scarring public meltdown. Most people fear public speaking more than death because whenever our ancestors stood in front of large groups of people they were, perhaps, about to be sacrificed to the gods.
But if you can stand up in front of a group of people you don’t know, crack a few jokes as you present your work, and live to tell the tale, you’ll realize you’re not going to have your heart ripped out of your chest and presented to Huehueteotl, and you can do anything.
#5 – Get a Sidekick or Be a Sidekick*
What do you do if you’re not funny? Like, really not funny? Well, there is a simple fix for this… Find the one guy or gal in your office who has a knack for making people laugh and creepily observe them. Get to know them, take them to coffee, and always laugh at their jokes. Before you know it, almost like magic osmosis, you will find yourself easing your way into the land of the funnies.
*Special Note: During the observation phase, try not to be annoying. (‘Tis best to play it cool.)
Well, there you have it. The business world would be a much better place if taken a little less seriously. So next time you’re thinking about emailing a boring memo or planning yet another team bowling night, think about the magic of humor and enjoy the results of your newfound approach! Your colleagues will surely appreciate it.
Thanks, (author) Rebekah! Meet another bright mind behind the scenes at AirPR…