Here are ten ways in which humour has worked for us during our training sessions.
We thought that this may give you some ideas to implement, and we would love to hear of any other ideas you may have:
- It is mainly about style of delivery. You may be delivering something that is serious, important or game changing but if you are over-serious you run the risk of people becoming tense or more nervous than they might already be feeling. Whatever you are training, demonstrate a lightness of touch when you are on your feet
- Be open to the possibility of humour when it arises. If something pops up as a response to a question that you think will work, give it a go and monitor the response. When observing one outstanding trainer we counted 24 instances of humour before lunch and only 15% of that was planned and the rest arose from interaction with his audience!
- Remember when using humour it should flow naturally from the content or the training situation
- Use self-depreciating humour. For example, if you lose your place or have temporary mental fatigue use the comedian Steve Martin’s favourite line “Where was I? Oh yes! I was here!” and take a step to the side. Or if a sentence comes out jumbled, say “I’ll pass out a printed translation of that sentence later”
- Find out what works. Try a simple story or one liner and see what response you get. Test out the material and retain the best bits. The more you use a story the surer you are of getting a positive response. If you want some ideas of stories/one liners look at our Resources Pack here on the website
- Always start your training with the credibility voice pattern but after a few minutes add a touch of humour to help to set the tone, using the connection voice pattern. Here is an example of something we have used as part of our introduction for a key client: “Over the past few years X has been a runaway success story. We have never worked with a company that has so much passion for its business. In fact we have been so impressed that we have both bought shares in X. So you think this conference is all about you – in fact we are protecting our investment!”
- Use humour to suggest to people that they can change easily (often the purpose of business training). Bernie Siegal (doctor, writer, trainer) says: “Humour’s most important psychological function is to jolt us out of our habitual frame of mind and promote new perspectives. People continue to see humour if they retain a child-like spirit – a sense of innocence and play”
- Take a story (ideally one that has happened to you) and embellish it until it becomes even more amusing and helps to emphasise a key point you are making. Then the more you tell it the better impact it will have
- Use humour to defuse unexpected situations
- Use funny props – smiley faces, rubber chickens, small toys, as long as they fit the theme and the audience. For instance, we sometimes use a toy monkey when we talk about how to banish nerves and access a resourceful state when we teach presentation skills. We ask “do you want to get the monkey off your back for once and for all?”
Do you have anything to add?