Thursday, November 13, 2008

Using Humor to Make Your Point

Over the past few months I've been given a fantastic example of just how important humor can be in getting your point across. A friend of mine sent me a training video that his organization had made that was produced by a physician. It was to be shown to all of their staff of "semi"-professional medical people. The information was way over any of their heads, and there was a lot of it. On top of that, the physician himself narrated the video. We've all known medical types that just aren't quite, shall I say, exciting. My friend told me that by the time the short video was over, most of the people were either falling asleep or talking amongst themselves. In a different setting of people this video probably would have gone over much better. It just didn't fit this group.

A couple of months later this same friend sent me their revised video - a cartoon. When I first turned it on, my first reaction was, "what the heck?". "This is just too goofy." But then as I watched it, I noticed that I was much more intrigued with the cartoon than the original video. Why? It was cute and comical. Even kind of silly. And you know what? I soaked in the actual point of the cartoon a lot easier and quicker than I had in the original. It turns out that it produced the same reaction with the employees of my friends organization.

According to the book, Motivating Employees, by Anne Bruce and James S. Pepitone, "humor helps us put things into perspective." "When you encourage people to have a sense of humor about their work, it forces them to take a step back from the situation at hand. When they do that, they can usually see more clearly and in more detail everything surrounding the situation."

I'm not saying that everyday has to be "Hee-Haw" (70s TV), but there is a direct correlation between having fun on the job and staff productivity, motivation, and retention.

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