Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Laughter Heals, Reduces Stress and Increases Productivity: Isn't it time you "Shared It" with your Employees !

For years now research has shown that laughter has incredible  effects on the human immune system. Among many health institutions  both Johns Hopkins and the Mayo clinic have done studies that have revealed the healing effects of  laughter that include reduced stress ,increased productivity and creativity as well as increased memory and learning. Really its no joke! Being a comedian I have never under estimated these effects on a audience. Over the years after shows some members of the audience are so moved that they want to share their feelings and personal stories with the comedian or comedians who performed. I can recount many stories from audience members who just want to say "thank you" or  "I needed that" and then they would go on to tell me some of the most inspiring stories about loss,tragedy ,incredible stress and everyday human troubles that we all at some point have to deal with. As a comedian I have been hugged,kissed,squeezed,given drinks, dinner,invited to homes,marriage proposals and in some cases a shoulder to cry on. From my experience I can actually see the powerful effects of laughter  up close. 

Wellness Speaker...David Michael 

In todays corporate  world the stress seems to be over whelming  with downsizing,layoffs,mergers,and a shrinking work force. Employees seem to be facing an uphill battle for wellness and sanity. I honestly believe more and more companies are in need of some enlightenment. For most of my corporate career as a comedian I have been mostly used as entertainer and speaker and  as an emcee for larger events . In the last ten years a slow change has taken place. More and more of my clients have been inquiring about the possibility of using me as a wellness tool. Considering how powerful laughter is ... its something that has grown and taken on a life of its own. When I speak about my new book  I always point out that when you use humor in your presentation the audience will have a higher tendency to retain your message. But when I am featured as a wellness speaker the only objective I have  is for everybody to laugh and have a good time. What's that! You mean your going to have a presentation for your employees in the middle of the work day and all they have to do is laugh and  have a good time ! The anticipation of getting a break in the middle of the work day is sweet enough but when you add the fact that there will be nothing to learn or remember ...well now you've got something my friend. Can you imagine your employees all laughing  at the same time or leaving a meeting all with a smile on their face !  And if that's not appealing enough think of the stress relief and increased productivity your company as well as the bonding between management and employees that will benefit from this wellness activity. So with all the sharing that is done with all of social media in business today why don't we share something that is as old as the hills and has the natural  healing effects of a modern day fountain of youth! .  If this trend continues to grow the jokes of the future might start something like this....a CEO,a manager and an employee all walk into a meeting...an hour later they walk out laughing ....together.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Biggest Fear Public Speakers Face Using Humor !

 Speakers face myriad of fears when they attempt to use humor to connect with their audience.  How does one get their material, how to intro the jokes or how much humor to inject are all valid concerns.  However, the biggest fear is what if they don’t laugh!  As a professional comedian and speaker for twenty-five years, I can fully sympathize with this plight. In our business there's an old saying  " Dying is easy. Comedy is hard" !

Telling a joke or relating a humorous observation that receives little or no response can throw a speaker or a comedian into a tailspin from which they might not recover. There is one simple technique you can use that works like magic when your material is not hitting the mark.  Most comedians write jokes with the expectation that people will laugh at them.  I do that but I take it one step further.  I write another joke that can be waiting in the wings.  It’s called a throw away line in our business.  It is effective because if your audience doesn’t laugh at the initial joke, you have a second joke that makes fun of how bad the initial joke was or you can make fun of the audience for not laughing at the joke.  If you have a backup line or several backup lines you will have the confidence to try your funny material with the benefit of a safety net, thus taking the fear out of attempting humor in your presentation.

Let me give you an example of a throw away line.  I was speaking at a corporation in the very early morning and my material didn’t seem to be working so I just paused and said to the audience, “You know what folks, I don’t care if you laugh, or not.  I’m not even your scheduled speaker today, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night!  Most of the audience got the reference to the Holiday Inn commercial where seemingly unqualified people were doing extraordinary jobs just by sleeping at their hotel chain.  It broke the ice and more importantly signaled the audience that I would be interjecting humor along with my content so they were inclined to pay attention. 

Years ago a comedian and good friend of mine, Auggie Cook, said to me after a particularly challenging show, You know what Buddy, you are great with a difficult audience”,  It was because of my throw away lines.  The audience hung on my every word just waiting to see if the preceding sentence was a bad joke or part of my message.  What a powerful effect to have on an audience!  So remember, the next time you’re hesitant to incorporate humor into your speech or presentation, do what comedians do and use a throw away  line.