“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” – Audrey Hepburn
The key to being funny is not worrying about the outcome.
Release that armor – that feeling of, “What happens if nobody laughs at me?” – and take the censor off your inner monologue.
Humor is the great equalizer, and it’s an extremely effective tool in your communications toolbox.
To use it, do as Garr Reynolds advocates in The Naked Presenter: Get naked!
No, don’t actually strip down past your skivvies, but use humor to be your authentic self. Strip away the pretense – the filter of seriousness. By being transparent and natural, you will be more connected to those around you and more able to make a connection.
Humor changes experiences.
It’s the reason that just three weeks ago, President Barack Obama hosted another White House Correspondents’ Dinner – to show his fun side, in hopes of gaining support and empathy.
Consider the daily news:
Humor propelled John Stewart and Steven Colbert (from our 2012 Top Ten list) to take over the ratings among viewers 18-49 years old with satirical daily news roundups.
And of course, business:
Steve Jobs, credited with so many wins, could also be funny. Sometimes, planned humor works. He also used humor in the moment to relate to his audience.
How can you add humor? It’s easier than you think.
- Start by lightening up. Humor is a mindset, so set your mind accordingly. Go into your next conversation or presentation ready to laugh, yourself.
- Take a risk! Actually, take a few. Most people are afraid to try to be funny – too worried that they’ll be embarrassed. It’s SAFER to be boring. But when humor lands right, it’s worth the risk.
- Stop hiding behind your status or title. Do you like when people talk down to you? Nobody does! Humor allows you to be the subject matter expert while identifying and empathizing with your audience on their same level. The best way to connect – no matter what level leader you are – is through humor.
- Release your inner-monologue for a day. Try it. Try not to think about falling flat on your face. Instead, notice how the energy changes in the room when you share a funny story or anecdote. (And notice that when something does fall flat, it’s not that big of a deal. Just keep going.)
- Do filter for vulgarity. Keep the “HR” filter on. Some words have no business in your business meeting. Others do. It doesn’t have to be ‘XXX’ to be funny. Keep your humor in context, and be respectful and playful.