The Art of Humor

February 17, 2014 | 1891 Views

The Art of Humor

Ryan Mason

I was talking to a coworker last week who said she wanted a cool accent like mine as everyone remembers the trainer with the accent.  I was musing about this to my wife later that night who said, “They don’t remember you because of your accent, they remember you because you make them laugh”.  I asked her to elaborate and she reminded me that the first time we met was in a meeting room with 45 people seated around a large table, but when it came time for my turn, I had the whole room laughing within about 30 seconds and that was the reason that she first decided to talk to me, because I was funny! (and yes, I know all of the female readers will be shaking their heads at the typical male lack of long term marriage memory of the first meeting with a disapproving mmmmmm-hmmmm  right now).

I never make a point to be funny during a training session, it just happens.  It’s a mix of stories from nearly 20 years of seeing people do things the wrong way in the field and the stories that go along with it, self-deprecating humor and slapstick demonstrations of the way not to do things.  Humor doesn’t work for everyone, I get that. But even if you are not a naturally funny person, there are always stories or ways to facilitate that have an upbeat funny approach that can keep your learners entertained and engaged.  I’m not saying to go out there and make every training session a standup comedy routine, but there are chances to make light of things that may just help your audience absorb the information a little more.

I love a good presentation, and the good ones always have a good gag or story to tie into.  Ty Bennett at the last CHART conference had a great couple of laughs during his presentation.  Another friend who is a motivational speaker for middle and high school kids, has an entire presentation about being your best that circles a hilarious story about getting a spiral notebook wire stuck in his nose during school as a child (sounds absurd I know, but check out  or search “Chris Bowers” on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean).

I try vary my presentations based on the material and audience, just like you all probably do. I recently presented to a room that included investors, owners and general managers of hotels. That’s usually a pretty stuffy room, but I managed to get a laugh out of them by taking on the persona of “that guest” who is “kind of a big deal” who loves to kick up a stink at the front desk, who every hotel worker can relate to and constantly returning to that character throughout the presentation.

The point I am trying to make here is, you don’t have to be a comedian to be funny, however, that funny story that related directly to the training you provided may just help your trainees remember something that prevents an injury or helps them succeed. As I said earlier, not everyone is naturally funny, but give it a try, you might like it and your trainees may just retain the material you teach a little longer.

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