Bobsled. Halfpipe. Hockey. Figure skating and speed skating. Slalom. Ski jumping. Even curling. With 3 young boys in the house, we watched a lot of Olympic coverage this year. My personal favorite moments are always the opening and closing ceremonies, and I was floored at this year’s closing ceremony. Of all the highlights and low points, the big standout moment was when they poked fun at the mishap between the rings from the opening ceremony.
(In case you didn’t see it – catch up here.)
The Russians used humor! After all the pressure and security concerns, it was humanizing to see them take themselves lightly. There’s a reason that humor is one of our SHARP tools – it gets people’s attention and it creates a connection.
A similar thing happened recently at a client’s sales kickoff. At the end of the EVP’s keynote, he announced a big award – but the recipient was not present. Instead of getting freaked out or awkward, he made light of it – and he even referenced it again the next day when he gave out another award. Everyone laughed, and it put the presenter, recipient and audience at ease.
The Lesson: Take yourself lightly while taking the subject seriously.
Just like with the Olympic ceremonies, you have the choice to create an experience - an experience that focuses on a mishap, or an experience that connects or redirects attention where it belongs.
We're not talking about joke-telling, here. Instead, it’s about levity. Make light of your situation. Take advantage of unplanned humor. Create an unexpected moment – it will surprise people and stick with them.
Point is, be light and use humor. It can change an opinion, change an impression, make you want to connect with someone, and persuade an audience to buy into your message.