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Make ’Em Laugh: Humor is Big Business

Want to make that next meeting unique, fun and memorable? Hire a humorist speaker! Humorist speakers can motivate employees, retain customers, convey strategic messages and achieve concrete, serious business goals. Humor provides different perspectives and offers unique insights. However, we get two reactions when we suggest a speaker who brings fun or humor. Planners are either dismissive (This is not playtime!) or apprehensive (Remember when the comedian offended everyone?).

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all of our irritations and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.” – Mark Twain

One of the biggest challenges in creating forward momentum, energy or the motivation to generate positive change is the ease we find in thinking more about what is not working than what could. “Want a sure-fire way to facilitate growth and create a groundswell at your next event? Hire a speaker who thrives on getting people out of their heads. The best way to do it? Laughter,” says keynote speaker, humorist and founder of Fundamism, Paul J Long.

A study conducted by the National Education Association revealed, “Laughter does not prohibit learning, it enhances it.” Sometimes when a program is fun for the audience, they do not always realize how much they retained. Laughter forces people to breathe more rapidly, which brings more oxygen into the body, thus making the brain work more efficiently. The right side of the brain‑-the creative side–is activated during laughter, causing the retention rate to increase.

Due to downsizing, mergers, acquisitions and takeovers, employee insecurity and stress are running rampant within organizations. Many planners look to humor to reduce tension and motivate employees. Humor is the vehicle used to capture interest, attention and approval. It deepens the understanding of the corporate message and brings new perspectives. Laughter establishes rapport and builds credibility by bringing more personal transparency to the audience. Laughter creates a bond between management and employees and causes employees to feel more connected to one another. Humor often rises from pain, but laughter itself does not inflict pain.

At Garrett Speakers Bureau, we have seen a 25 percent increase in hiring humorists because of these overwhelming times. In fact, humorists believe many organizations are just too serious. If organizations would loosen up, they would realize that informality and spontaneity would foster open communications and stimulate creativity. According to Scott Friedman, CSP, “Humor is a technique, which is learned, practiced, reinforced and internalized just like other skills.” Here are some tips offered by Friedman about how to stay loose within the organization:

  • Place cartoons, appropriate jokes or postcards on the company bulletin board.
  • Sprinkle internal communications with humor.
  • Inject humor into meetings.
  • Wear amusing buttons.
  • Give rewards for the worst mistake of the week.
  • Spike your environment with appropriate humorous props around your office.
  • Serve ice cream or suckers at the start of your meetings.
  • Have a “positive” party funded by “negative” people. Every time someone says a negative thought, they have to throw a dollar into a positive pot, and once a quarter the pot buys a pizza, happy hour, etc.
  • Send cartoons with your correspondence.
  • Keep it light especially, when an employee is frustrated.

Just about any event can utilize fun and humor. Of course, the usual vehicles are incentive programs, awards presentations and celebrations. However, humor also helps the learning process in serious events, such as training programs where employees must retain product information or understand new policies. Use a humorist to lead a cheer for the crowd or have props or jokes that are customized to your organization to show audience members that the speaker and the leaders are aware of their challenges. You do not have to go overboard with big-ticket items to use humor as an effective way to get the audience’s attention. Larry Winget, CSP, humorist and keynote speaker says, “We have become a society that loves to be entertained. No matter how much content you have, you must still entertain people or they will become bored and lose the message.”

Keep in mind that a humorist uses humor to convey the message, while a comedian is strictly for laughs and entertainment. Be very careful when selecting a humorist to avoid dirty jokes, inappropriate comments and embarrassment to you or your audience. Do your homework when selecting the RIGHT humorist; call a reputable speaker’s bureau that knows which humorous speakers are dynamite and right for your event.

Remember, laughter is warm, bonding and contagious. Use it often!

About Betty Garrett

Betty Garrett has spent more than three decades in the training, travel and hospitality industries. Her company, Garrett Speakers International, is based in Irving, Texas. Reach Garrett at Check out their website at