So, you want to make people laugh, huh? That’s easy! Okay, maybe not. But don’t worry! I’m here to help. Let’s dive into some scenarios and I’ll give you some things to keep in mind before your meeting, performance, company party, or whatever you’ve got going on!
There are a lot of steps to leveraging other people’s laughter. So, let’s break it down.
The setting matters! Things that are allowed to be said during a performance versus a business meeting are COMPLETELY different.
Before letting all of your family holiday party jokes fly, consider your audience. If you have to think about whether or not something is appropriate—play it safe and leave it out. You’re a creative person! Find a better alternative.
Don’t forget about the details! There are plenty of nuances in your setting.
One of the biggest keys in getting people to laugh, especially in a group setting, is to make sure they can see each other. Whenever possible, make sure you leverage the seating so that people can make eye contact with other people.
Because laughter is contagious!
Trust me. It makes things SO much easier. Our brains contain mirror neurons and when we can see others smile and laugh, we automatically respond in kind. And when we hear laughter—even if we don't know why others are laughing—we begin to laugh as well (thus the science behind sitcom laugh tracks). If you keep these factors in mind—then the next time someone in your audience starts to bust up laughing, you’ll quickly have your whole audience belly laughing!
For example, a group of people that just ate a huge meal maybe had a couple of drinks, and are ready for a nap…probably not the right audience! They’re just focused on getting back to their Puffy Lux. Make sure you and the audience are in the right state of mind. You want a crowd to have energy that you can harness and turn that into laughter!
Now, the pain has to be something they’re emotionally detached from. It's a bit of a delicate balance. Zero discomfort will result in indifference. However, if it sparks a threat response, the humor will fall flat.
For example - The lack of parking in your organization.
"Here at Acme Corp, "getting lucky" means finding a parking place!"
Weave some things in that come with a little bit of pressure. Leverage the pressure and give them release.
Boom! You just successfully leveraged laughter!
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Karyn Buxman is a TEDx speaker, author, and neurohumorist (she lives at the intersection of humor and the brain.) A pioneer in the emerging science of applied humor, Karyn helps high performers expand their influence, strengthen their relationships, and boost their resilience. From the Mayo Clinic to the Million Dollar Round Table, organizations around the world hire Karyn to educate, inspire, and entertain their audiences again and again. She’s one of 194 people (and only 43 women) in the world to be inducted into the National Speakers Association's Speaker Hall of Fame. Her latest book, Funny Means Money will be published by Forbes in 2019. Karyn is serious about humor!