Humor in the Place of Business

Humor is powerful. It relaxes people and lessens the stress of the everyday rush. Good humor in workplace spiced with a joke or two generates competence and originality, and managers who bring cheer and high spirits to the workplace find the people working with them to be encouraged and willing to chip in to the growth of the company.

Good humor not only in the hands of the managers but also through all aspects of a business can be priceless in serving a company’s objectives. Whether on a trade-show floor or inside a boardroom, a well-placed tasteful joke can be integrated into the presentation. The trick is to determine the limits of any joke exactly. Main principle in making a joke or offering good humor is to conform to the image of the company or corporation. If the company has a strictly solemn image, a far-out joke will cause raised brows and unpleasant comments.

To be successful, the joke needs to be funny and easily understandable. Taking too long to tell a joke will make the listeners lose their attention. One-or-two-sentence jokes are the better understood and remembered ones. On top of it all, humor needs to be politically correct without any racial, ethnic, sexual, or gender-based insinuations.

Making jokes at the expense of fellow workers is also taboo, while a self-depreciating joke can make a person more lovable by others. Using humor about situations but not people is a safe bet.

The language used is important, too. Curses and four-letter words may bring on instant shock and reaction but may mar the company’s image.

Oft-repeated jokes tend to bore the employees and the customers alike. While a good laugh relaxes people, used-up, tasteless jokes can create more tension.

Humor directed to the customers has to reinforce the company’s message, keeping the target audience in mind. Jokes that work with one kind of audience may not work with another, but repetition of a funny motto and mascots like the Pillsbury doughboy make the message indelible.

Jokes are not the only means for good humor. Around areas where people relax, such as the lounge, cafeteria, or the water cooler, placing humor magazines, a funny poster with a cartoon or a written sophisticated joke will improve the employee morale. Once in a while, an amusing memo from a superior or jokes sprinkled inside the company newsletter will perk up relationships.

Humor works better if handed from top down. Even in the most serious of businesses, if supervisors and managers initiate a humor break for a minute or two in each meeting, they’ll find that the ideas will generate faster, employees will be motivated for better production, and there will be more amicable give and take between people.

Within the most successful business undertakings, humor encourages attendance and production. Unfortunately, not each mission in business is always successful, and failure sometimes brings bitter lessons. Yet, looking on the lighter side of things and reducing the weight on the shoulders of the employees can boost up the next step.

Humor and a cheerful workplace charge the atmosphere with energy, friendliness, and warmth, and open the way to achieving business goals, because success and laughter always walk together.

Joke Ninja

Conversational Jokes and One-liners

Jokes can be a non-threatening way to open conversations with strangers, add a ray of sunshine to a friend’s day or just share a funny moment with those who are closest to you. Are there not times you wish you could be like a Joke Ninja – landing back on your feet with one funny or hilarious story after another, when you are trying to create some good, clean fun? Remembering great “one-liners” or coming up with fresh comedy material for your next party can be difficult to do, unless you have access to your own comedy writers.

The Internet a Great Source, But Do Not Restrict Yourself

With the Internet, it’s easier to find jokes you haven’t heard before, regardless of the subject matter. It can be difficult to come up with appropriate funnies for younger audiences, but there are plenty of clean, humorous anecdotes to be found or created, and some have been put in writing. There are some people who just seem to have a knack for thinking up short, amusing stories, whether based on real people, or not. There seems to be an endless supply of the “a ______walked into a bar” or “knock-knock” jokes, but those can get worn out as quickly as “blond” or “fat” “one-liners”, depending on your audience.

A Joke Ninja

A Joke Ninja can be defined as a person who knows how to gear their material to their audience, so it won’t be offensive, and they know how to tell it so it makes people laugh. There are some people who just don’t get good jokes and others can take them downright personally. Knowing your audience helps a lot, if you decide to tell any types of stereotypical “one-liners“, such as those about seniors, religion or political sectors, sports or occupations, for example.

You can find plenty of material that’s clean enough to tell your grandmother or your kids, but there are all different kinds of categories, when it comes to looking for humorous and funny material. Everyone thinks they can become a comedian if they can remember the punch line, when it comes time to deliver. Those that might be considered a Joke Ninja will have a full range of humorous material, but they will be able to read and command their audience, using the basic concepts of comedy. And just like the Japanese warriors of old, each thrust will be perfectly timed taking the listener(s) off guard.

Delivering different kinds of funny, short stories or performing hilarious impersonations could be considered “stand-up” or “slapstick”, but even if you write your own material, you have to admit that delivery is the key factor. There is an art to humor and just because you have some funny material does not mean you won’t cause a classic, “one-liner” to become a flop, if you don’t make people laugh when telling it.

Master The Joke(s) First

Mastering the telling of jokes is a task that a Joke Ninja, such as professional entertainers or comedians, have learned to consistently incorporate. If you want to make people laugh and become the life of the party, you need to consider joke delivery, besides audience-appropriate material. Sometimes to become funny it is necessary to be most serious, and as some comedians have discovered a serious business can be hilariously funny. Practice, practice and practice the secret of any professional. Putting together new ideas in funny ways can help you be more successful in making people laugh! Get the right material, learn the lines and then make the delivery professional. Lastly, you too should enjoy the fun!

Is It a Good Idea to Start a Speech With a Joke?

In my presentation skills training programs, people often ask me, “Is it a good idea to start my presentation with a joke?” My immediate response is “No!”

Now I’m a fan of humor as much as anyone – and in fact, probably more than most people, since I’ve been performing onstage with an improv comedy group for the last 6 years and I’ve incorporated improv comedy rules and ideas into my communication skills/leadership training programs.

(Improv does not involve telling memorized jokes, however, but instead requires you to be in the moment and spontaneously respond to audience suggestions and whatever your fellow performers on stage have offered. Applied to speaking, improv helps you connect with the audience, remain fully in the moment and trust that you’ve prepared enough to handle the unexpected – from a technical glitch to an unanticipated question to a fire alarm.)

So here are 4 reasons why I don’t recommend starting a presentation by telling a memorized joke:

1. A joke is difficult to get right.
Great jokes are all about timing and delivery. Expert comedians like Jerry Seinfeld work for hours to perfect a joke and decide which words to use, where to put the emphasis and how long to pause before delivering the punch line. Telling a joke right is a lot of pressure to put on yourself at the start of the speech, especially when you already are feeling nervous.

If you’re a stand-up comedian performing for 15 minutes, you can afford to flub a few jokes. However, if you’re giving a presentation and the joke is your opening, it’s hard to recover from a joke gone wrong and from that awkward silence during which the audience wonders if they’re supposed to laugh.

Speaking is not about perfection – it’s about communication – and perfection is unrealistic and unnecessary. But jokes require you to be near-perfect, especially if it’s your opening line and your only joke.

2. They’ve heard it before.
Unless you have your own personal joke writer (and if you’d like to hire someone to write funny lines for you, I recommend speakers/comedians/humorists David Glickman and Ron Culberson http://www.funnierspeeches.com ), you probably get your jokes from the Internet. And if it’s a funny joke, that probably means that someone in your audience has read it in their email inbox. And if the joke is specific to a particular industry, the chance is even greater that many people have read it or heard it before.

A key element of humor is the element of surprise, whether it’s an unexpected juxtaposition of words or events, a twist in the ending of the story or an unanticipated punchline. If people in the audience have heard the joke before, you lose the power of surprise. And telling a stale joke could brand you as “same old, same old” rather than as a unique individual with a fresh perspective on the topic.

3. You will offend someone.
While you probably wouldn’t start your presentation with “a rabbi, a minister and a priest walk into a bar…” because of its obvious inappropriateness for most audiences, there are few jokes and types of humor that are universally inoffensive. Especially given the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of our audiences, it’s difficult to imagine a clean, funny and appropriate joke that is a safe bet for every audience.

And there’s no real way to know if people are offended by your joke, unless they tell you. Just because people laugh doesn’t mean they are not offended or hurt by the joke – sometimes, they give in to the social pressure to laugh, while inwardly feeling upset and even angry.

Beginning your presentation by alienating people in the audience will not help you communicate effectively.

4. Even if you get it right AND they haven’t heard it before AND it doesn’t offend anyone, it might be irrelevant.
Even if all else goes well, your joke might be viewed by the audience as irrelevant. They may laugh, but be unsure why you told it and how it relates to your message. Even if you think it’s obviously and directly relevant to your presentation, they still might be confused about its purpose. And it’s never a good idea to start off by confusing the audience.

So the next time you have to give a presentation, remember these 4 concerns. And unless, you can successfully address all of them, resist the urge to start with a joke you found online and you’ll have a better chance of being effective.