From the Archive: Learn to be funny it will improve your Communication Skills

Yesterday I gave a presentation to the North Alabama SHRM conference in Huntsville, Alabama. I tried to incorporate some humor in to my presentation, even though the topic of investigations is not really a humorous subject. I hope it worked. Regardless these are still good tips that I wanted to reaffirm for readers.

Learning to be funny can enhance your communication skills.
Learning to be funny can enhance your communication skills.

Most people love a good humorous story. A speaker is always easier to listen to if they can make you chuckle at their story. Unfortunately many people do not have this skill. They attempt to be humorous by telling jokes and end up being humorless. If you want to improve your communication skill learn to be funny, learn to weave humorous stories into your training, your speaking, or your conversations.A growing trend
According to The Herman Trend report, more and more “C-Level executives are embracing the value of going beyond the occasional humorous remark and learning stand-up comedy.”  The have learned the teaching and connecting value of making people laugh. I use humor in my presentations, usually by relating something humorous that has occurred in my HR career. After all if something funny or ridiculous has not happened to you in HR then I would be surprised. The ability to relate it to others is where the skill comes in.
Take a class on doing “Stand-up”
I have taken a class on how to do stand-up comedy. I have no aspirations of ever being a professional comedian, but I did learn a lot from that class. I learned that it takes practice to look poised. I learned how to think on my feet in front of an audience. I learned how to handle a heckler (the role played by the instructor). I learned the value of using humor to bond with your audience. A common theme in my class feedback is the attendees have enjoyed my stories and my sense of humor.
Here in the Atlanta area there is a comedian, Jeff Justice, who does corporate training and teaches business people on how to use comedy to accomplish their business goals. I know a number of his graduates and have seen some of them in action. It works. I can recall one individual in particular who was as stiff as a board in his normal presentations. Jeff helped him parlay that stiffness into a humor style that worked for him. Jeff bills himself as the Humor Resources Director, and that title endeared me to him. By the way, I have no relationship with Jeff other than admiration for his work, so this is not a paid commercial.
The value
According to Judy Clark, who was mentioned in The Herman Trend Report, there are five takeaways to learning to be humorous:

  1. Participants learn how to practice light-hearted self-mocking. When we find out what people are saying about us and make light of our own foibles, we take back our power.
  2.  Learning how to handle hecklers as stand-up comics, translates into valuable communications skills; they know how to handle difficult people with grace.
  3. Writing jokes together is a creative and bonding experience. “Nobody writes comedy alone,” states Carter; we all need others to help us determine what’s really funny.
  4. People learn it’s OK to take risks—to do things that scare them.
  5. Finally, participants learn how to effectively communicate difficult issues in a way that people will hear it.

So if you want to be a better communicator you may want to think about taking a class on stand-up comedy. You may discover something about yourself.
Partial Source: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurists. (800) 227-3566 or The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.”

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