Starving Children, Exploited Animals, Disease & Pollution… And you expect me to use Humor?
Nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs face horrific conditions that desperately need attention. There’s nothing funny about it. But could you strategically add humor to your next presentation to relieve some of this tension and be more effective?
Humor brings people together, makes your message memorable and will keep you from burning out. Just be sure you’re using inclusive humor instead of the one-upmanship type of clever sarcasm.
Inclusive humor connects people and builds community. It reveals our shared humanity and creates a place where your listeners can feel safe. You can always find a way to relate your specific life experience to your audience in a friendly, funny way. Many of my clients say, “Oh, you don’t understand. My topic is serious. It’s not something you can joke about.” While facts are good, if you combine a serious topic with levity, your listeners will stay engaged and appreciate you for giving them some relief.
When I worked with a nonprofit for animal welfare, I shared an embarrassing teenage experience when my 4th generation farmer father strongly encouraged me to run for Dairy Princess of Martin County. I hated milk and even worse, was terrified of public speaking. Through exaggeration, play on words and facial expressions I was able to set the stage and gain their trust. After we had some laughs and defenses were down, I brought in my knowledge of their industry and ideas for how they could operate more effectively to help end suffering on the planet.
Humor is a skill that anyone can learn.
One way to develop humor is to start a humor journal. Carry a small notebook with you and when something funny happens during the day write it down. Not only is this a stellar way to reduce your own stress, it will train your brain to look for humor. It helps you go with the flow. Have you ever seen a presenter get flustered when the microphone doesn’t work or there’s an irritating heckler in the crowd? When you start observing and noting humor in your everyday life, it will come more naturally in tense situations when you need it the most. Humor keeps you flexible and healthy. It can mean the difference between alienating your listeners or engaging them.
For more tips, get the book 'Giving Voice to Your Cause' on Amazon.com