|Dear Meeting Guru,
I've been asked to write
a few humorous opening lines for my boss to give
at our next all-associate meeting. I'm a funny
person; however, the total number of meeting attendees
tops 400 and to make matters worse, the meeting
begins at 7:00 a.m.! I don't know about you, but
nothing gets me to laugh that early in the morning.
George Gow once said that "laughter is the salt of personality. It is
the most effective means of easing a difficult situation." Everybody loves
humor, but most people fear using it in their speeches and presentations. They
worry that if they try to use it and it doesnít go over well, they will end
up with egg all over their faces. Trying to get a large group of people to laugh
in the early hours of the morning is most definitely a challenging thing to
do. Itís nevertheless very important. Professional speechwriters will tell you
that most people in an audience will forget 90% of a speech by the morning after
it is delivered. Amazingly, however, people in the same audience can repeat
well-chosen quotations or humorous items from a speech, sometimes several years
later. Try the following ways to add humor to your opening lines:
Find something that everyone in the audience can relate to, and exploit it.
Because you are all from the same company, you might think of something everyone
knows about and put a funny spin on it. Make light of the fact that youíre actually
meeting at such an early hour, or talk about the top five reasons why your organization
is the best to work for. Make fun of something your company is good at, or is
notorious for, such as having the greatest coffee station in the world Ė or
maybe you donít even have a coffee station!
An almost risk-free trick is to use quotations in your speeches and presentations.
They can be used to both make a point and provide humor. If the audience laughs
loudly, thatís wonderful. If you get a good chuckle, thatís wonderful too. And
if no one laughs, nothing is lost because you have made your point anyway.
If you are really stuck, e-mail some of your colleagues. Ask them if there
is anything they have used or heard in the past that they thought was "good
material." Another idea is to head to the library and pick up a joke book.
If you find something appropriate from either source, great Ė but donít use
it verbatim. Mold it into your own words so that it will sound more personal
and less canned.
It is generally agreed that
a good sense of humor is an important management tool that will carry you a
long way in business and in life. As the wise man Confucius once said: "The
virtuous will certainly have something to say." If you are persistent,
funny lines will come your way. Your audience is sure to remember your speech
if you follow these ideas from the meeting guru!
Until next time
may good meeting karma always be with you.