Practical advice for people considering a career as a motivational speaker

August 21, 2012

The most successful motivational speakers are not the ones with the best stories or information; they are the ones who have the best-honed speech and who didn’t try to write a new presentation every time they stepped in front of an audience. When you’re honed, you are worth money. Also, making a video when your skills are still clearly in the larval stage is just an effective way of proving you suck. Of course, if you are really, really bad, you could go viral on YouTube; however, the world (including 500 million middle-school students) will know the depth of your mediocrity.

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How to Get Hired on Your First Interview

June 18, 2012

Why is it that some people who have the skills, the intellect, the right education and a positive attitude can’t get hired after a year’s worth of interviews, while others with none of the above (and often as dumb as dirt!) get a job offer from every interview they’ve ever had?

When we talk to people who do the hiring, they say some people will get called back to two or three interviews whereas others have the job four minutes into the first interview! When we delve deeper into this, the interviewers cite reasons like “They seemed teachable,” “It felt like they were a fit for our culture,” “It felt like they would stay with us” and “They seemed committed.” What we do not hear from them is “Great resume!” and “Impressive education.”

If you’re a young person trying to find a job, it may be tough to accept that where you went to school and all the extracurricular activities that robbed you of quality party time might be irrelevant. And if you’re young and don’t have professional work experience (all that time spent working for your friend’s crazy mom doesn’t count), this news can make you feel not only like you’re unable to repay your student loans but – even worse – you’ve been ripped off! No one told you that organizations don’t hire experience and education; they actually hire people.

On the surface, that sounds discouraging, but you can turn it in your favor. We’ve learned that certain actions, attitudes and behaviors can help you get hired on your first interview, regardless of your experience, education or inspired thought. Here’s a short list:

  • Make sure the interviewer does most of the talking. Ask questions that are personal to the interviewer. For example, “What is your opinion on what this company looks for from employees long term? What do you think is the most important outcome of this position? How do you think this position helps the bottom line? Do you think I can really make a difference?” Do not ask questions like “How soon after I start can I take vacation days?” or “Do you guys recycle?”
  • Be confident but not overconfident. If you’re under 30 years old, the school system built your self-esteem stronger than that of previous generations. People 40 and older can perceive you as cocky or arrogant because of your strong belief in your abilities. So be calm and be confident, but let them know you weren’t convinced you were The Solution the minute you walked in the door. Instead, ask questions that indicate you’re discovering how qualified you are by what they’ve told you. Say something like “Based on what you just told me, it sounds like I might be a very good fit.” Do not say “Let me tell you how I’m qualified for the job.” And never say “I’m totally smart and, like, I’m supergood at stuff I don’t know anything about.”
  • If your interviewers want to talk the whole time, let them, and don’t interrupt. Focus on how they feel and give verbal cues like “Yes,” “Right,” “I agree” and “That’s true.”  And say “wow” at anything that seems interesting (or almost interesting). People like to feel heard. They want to be listened to. So if they say something that they’re clearly hot about, respond with “Wow, tell me more about that.” They will hit a whole new gear, and they’ll instantly see you as someone who shares their interests. The longer you listen, the more they like you if you follow these tips.
  • When you get the chance to talk, be very clear and focused. Be prepared to explain your value. Explain how your education and work experience enhance your natural traits – for example, “I’m very good at getting things done right the first time. My degree in history helps me look deep into the problem’s past to see how the issue started so I can move into the solution phase.” They like to know you’re not just using trial and error. They want to hear you’re applying something that you know. “And my job for two summers at the grocery store taught me to make sure the product count was right the first time so I would not have to do it over.” If you can make a history degree and stocking shelves at midnight look like assets, you can make any experience look good! The point is to use whatever you have to show your experience. (Although if you’ve spent the past two years on Mom and Dad’s couch smoking weed and playing Xbox, you might want to leave out what you’ve learned … which you’ve probably forgotten anyway!)
  • Look like you’re employable.
    • A mohawk is out; a faux hawk is passable. One makes you look like an unemployed serial killer, and the other just makes it seems like you have a pointy head.
    • Make sure your clothes are not old, worn out or superwrinkled. No one wants to hire a hobo.
    • Shave! I know it’s very cool to look like you just woke up, and you may be very proud of what little hair you’ve managed to grow, but employers comment on this all the time. When you get the job, this might not matter, but in the interview it does!
    • Women: don’t dress like it’s prom night. Six-inch heels may be very “in,” but interviewers over 40 won’t think you’re there for business. They’ll think you’re in the world’s oldest business. (That’s prostitution.) Fashion is a strange thing; each generation dislikes much of what the next generation wears. They expect you to dress your age but be practical – flats, not flops. Or choose heels that don’t imply you have a performance later that night that involves a pole.
    • The secret weapon: Throw your generation under the bus. Most people believe that if you’re under 30 you lack a solid work ethic and you won’t work hard enough. It’s the No. 1 complaint, true or perceived. To combat this preconception, say “Unlike a lot of people my age, I’m willing to work hard and stay late sometimes to get the job done.” Your potential employer now sees you as a young person he or she can count on. For bonus points, add that you will show up on time consistently.

You may think these tactics seem a bit manipulative, and many would agree with you. But when the job market is tough, you have to make a decision. Do you want to see how you compete in the world based on your own merit, or would you like to get hired quickly for a job that you want?

Many people have used these tips with great success. You can ask your parents’ opinion, but I think you already know what they will say!

Additional Resources:
Generational Differences Keynotes
How to Get Hired as a Teen
Work Ethics for Young Employees
Resumes, Cover Letters and Interviews

Customer Service Is Dying — and I’m Not Feeling So Good Myself!

March 26, 2012

Have you ever called a company and been greeted with the phrase “Hold, please”?

How do they know you can hold? They don’t even know who you are. Maybe you can’t hold; maybe you have 10 seconds of juice left on your cell phone and your hair is on fire! Then you finally get someone on the phone, only to be told, “I can’t actually help you; I’m just paid to apologize, and I’m really sorry about that.”

Being frustrated by a lack of customer service is nothing new. But in recent years, it certainly seems that companies have become more innovative when it comes to not helping you solve your problems. I recently asked a hotel employee to help me with my luggage. He told me to hold on and said he would have someone look into it. I thought, “Hey, you’re someone – why can’t you look into it?”

I realize that we are as busy as we have ever been and that many younger people were not brought up in the traditional culture of customer service. But none of these excuses will protect your business in today’s challenging economy, where customers are questioning value even with companies they have known for years.

Customer ServiceYou might have the best service, product or skills in your area, yet for some reason you still aren’t getting the results you know you deserve. It seems to make no sense! We’ve all been conditioned to believe that if you are the best, you are supposed to eventually win. Let’s address the reality of why your products, services or leadership styles – or those of your competitors – are selected.

Think of the top-selling hamburgers in the world. Are they the best hamburgers? No! And is that special sauce really special? It’s actually pretty gross! I’m not trying to criticize the fast food industry; it has combined two of the most desired things on the planet: Fast and Food. This convenient pairing results in top-selling burgers, but few people would argue that they’re the best. So why are they chosen? Because there is more to success than being the best.

The point is, success is more than being really good at what you do; it’s about being consistently chosen to do it. We like fast food because it meets a specific need. Some people under certain circumstances will trade quality for speed, and if you can put a little special sauce on it – even better!

Here’s an idea I’d like you to consider: There is no such thing as The Best! If the world agreed on what’s best, everybody would choose the best and nothing else would even be considered. Decision-making doesn’t work that way! People don’t necessarily choose what’s best; they choose what they are the most comfortable with, whether it’s the best or not. They don’t choose the best idea, the best strategy, or the best place to live. They choose the experience. That experience usually involves humans (unless your customers are dealing with robots, where being stiff, cold, and uncaring and speaking in a spooky sci-fi voice is pretty much expected).

Maybe it’s time to get back to basics and make service a real priority. Sure, plenty of companies claim to offer great customer care. But raising your service standards requires more than a promise; you need to set concrete goals and establish effective procedures to meet them. Whether you own the company, handle key accounts or just accidentally encounter your customers, you’ll reap huge benefits by applying the following customer service goals:

On the Phone

  • Be friendly! No one wants to send a check to people who seem to be bothered by their call.
  • Ask permission before putting a caller on hold. If a customer is greeted with “Hold, please,” what the customer really hears is “Hang on! Someone much more important than you just called in.”
  • Keep it professional. Smoking cigarettes, slurping a drink, and playing the drums on your desk can make callers feel like they are getting advice from a guy in a bar.
  • Make sure that callers don’t have to repeat themselves. Someone who has explained a problem three times to three different people hangs up angry, whether or not the problem is solved.

All the Time

  • Create a positive image to attract business. Remember that squirrels are just rats with good publicity.
  • Display compassion for people who are upset. People who don’t think you care won’t value your solution.
  • Be very clear when you explain a process. When customers don’t know what you’re talking about, they assume you don’t either.
  • Do what you say you’re going to do. When you don’t follow through, people don’t think you have forgotten. They think you don’t care.
  • Know when to bring in someone else. When it becomes clear that the customer thinks you are the problem, set your ego aside and send in a fresh face.
  • Establish a simple, easy-to-implement customer service plan. When something is really complicated, it’s hard to tell if it’s working.

Well, I think will survive – and I feel better now that I’ve written this article – but it’s important that we help nurse that ailing customer-service approach to a full recovery, ensuring a healthy prognosis for today’s businesses.

Customer service resources:  Customer service speaker


The Real Truth About Safety: Creating a culture of buy in

March 26, 2012

The importance of  communicating safetyKnowing that safety is important is clearly not enough to create (or even put a dent in creating) incident-free environments. We have heard the messages “Safety First,” “Target Zero” and, as a very dedicated guy in rural Louisiana explained it, “We ain’t toleratin’ no more dead dudes!” As powerful and eloquent as these messages might be, they haven’t produced the buy-in we might have hoped for.

Frankly, it’s not hard to imagine some skepticism arising in response to these messages. When I hear “Safety First,” I wonder: Are you paying me to do my job or to just not get hurt while attempting to do my job? The motto “Target Zero” seems to ignore the fact that in some industries we will have recordable incidents and fatalities regardless of huge improvements. Just because there is always some idiot who thinks that Jägermeister and welding are a great combo, does that mean we have failed at safety?

Overall the improvement is tremendous: in the past 25 years, we have managed to do very well and people are much safer on the job than ever before. But it seems that the complacency that causes some accidents can actually be created by having a great safety record. After all, if you have no recordable incidents for a year and you have seen great improvement, what’s next? Well … how ’bout Jimmy walking and texting (neither of which he does well) – and slipping and hurting his back?

The only way to change a culture is to get an extremely high level of repeatable buy-in. That means the message from leadership has to be very clear, simple to implement and not a total pain in the ass! It also means that we have to be realistic about what’s working. Have you noticed that the job site with the best safety record is the one where the boss makes everyone feel valuable, the people seem to trust one another and everyone gets along well? It’s true. There may be a few exceptions – a place where Jimmy and his three brothers (all less sharp than he is) happen to work, for example. (If your name happens to be Jimmy, it does not mean you’re accident prone. It’s just the name we are using in the article based on the fact that there seem to be a lot of guys named Jimmy in jobs that involve tools or machinery.)

Most research confirms that when people feel valuable, they make fewer mistakes. They are more loyal and they watch out for each other. They are consistently willing to do more of what they are asked to do. All of that results in dramatically fewer incidents and a true culture of safety.  But how do you make that happen in your organization or at your location?

Here are seven ways to make sure your environment is positioned to reduce incidents:

  • Beware of mixed messages: “Hey, you guys, be safe but hurry up! Don’t be so safe that we can’t make any money!” The real message is “Let’s get it done before 5 p.m. – but if you get outside the safety guidelines, rethink it.”
  • Make sure that the people around you understand that you have their back. They will be more likely to have yours. Watch your behavior and treat others with respect. Guess who will not have anyone rushing back into the burning building to save him? That’s right, the guy who nobody likes!
  • Be realistic about how people feel about safety procedures. If you have a process or situation that everyone makes fun of or complains about, look into it and make adjustments. There is nothing more dangerous than expecting people to be protected by things they obviously don’t believe in.
  • Remember that many accidents happen indoors in office environments. Approximately 76,000 people each year are hospitalized from putting their feet on their desks and leaning back in a chair. Acting like a big shot is not only obnoxious; it’s apparently dangerous! Also, women in high heels who stepped from carpeted surfaces to hard floors had a surprising number of injuries. (To be fair, I think men in high heels had even more.)
  • Communication skills are the foundation of safety. Let people talk about what’s important to them before you tell them your opinions. People who feel heard are much more likely to listen to you. To make safety happen, we have to be influential enough to have what we say create actions in others. If people see their input in your safety solution, they are much more likely to have buy-in and much less likely to be injured.
  • Don’t tell the guys in their 20s how brave you were “back in the day” before modern safety equipment. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and that means our younger brothers and sisters especially. On a job site, I once heard a guy in his 50s say to group of people in their 20s, “You young guys have all this protective clothing and special tools! In the ’70s, we were down in there naked with a Q-tip!” Challenging someone’s manhood makes you part of the problem.
  • Make sure you can clearly explain the value of a safety procedure or policy in 30 seconds. People buy into what they understand quickly. The leading addiction on the planet is not drugs or alcohol; it’s convenience. People will consistently abandon a safe process that’s complicated for an unsafe one that’s not. Keep it simple. It does not matter how smart you are if nobody knows what you’re talking about!

Whether you are a leader who is driving safety forward or just a person on the job trying be good at what you do without being hurt, it requires influence. Are you influential enough to make safety happen around you? Do you have the trust and the relationships in place to help safety concepts and procedures remain effective? For some of you, it may be hard to buy into how important it is for people to have a supportive environment to do their job. You may think that it’s all “charm school BS” and people should just do what they are supposed to do and be safe. But in reality, the overwhelming success of this approach is kind of like listening to NASCAR on the radio; you personally may not believe it makes any sense, but for some strange reason it’s still happening!

Safety Resources: safety training programssafety speaker

Post-disaster wake-up call: Guy Rankin prompting nations to a recovery-ready mind-set

September 26, 2011

Can the world prepare to recover from disasters like Japan’s? Houston-based housing expert says yes, urges U.S. and world governments to forge recovery policy.  

Guy Rankin’s Blog – Full Story

We can’t prevent them. In many cases, we can’t even predict them. Natural disasters will happen; they inevitably kill, destroy and displace. Whether a struck nation faces staggering losses or mild, a disaster’s aftermath is something nations definitely can prepare for.

Japan’s plight following the March 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami begs the question: What can be done to minimize residual damage after nature wreaks its havoc? As crews work to recover more than 25,000 missing or dead, Japan also must tend to more than 320,000 evacuees who have fled ruined towns and unsafe levels of radiation.

Watching the post-disaster challenges unfold, other nations began to explore their own ability to recover from disaster. How would we shelter hundreds of thousands of displaced people? Where would we find the food and water to sustain them if local supply is contaminated or wiped out altogether? How do we get that food and water to them when the usual delivery methods have been compromised? How do we supply required medicine and medical attention?

“We have the know-how to address ‘the disaster after the disaster,’” says recovery expert Guy Rankin, who led large-scale disaster recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast after an unprecedented series of hurricanes displaced more than a quarter-million people. He emphasizes that although we can’t control nature, we can adopt a controlled, systematic approach to tackling follow-on disasters of displaced people, destroyed communities, food and water shortages, access to medicine and health care, and more.

“First comes the understanding that one disaster often follows another,” he advises. “Expect it. That way, you understand the need for a recovery plan that can roll out even as you tackle the second or third crisis that comes.”

Rankin, executive director of Harris County Housing Authority in Houston, Texas, speaks from experience. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina brought 250,000 evacuees to emergency shelters across Houston. As Rankin and his small staff hustled to place evacuees in temporary housing throughout the region, Hurricane Rita was predicted to travel up the Houston Ship Channel with wind speeds that threatened to bring down the Astrodome. “This horrifying picture began taking shape: our biggest emergency shelter potentially collapsing on 25,000 people that we’re trying desperately to house!” Rankin recalls. “We were sending people all over the country to clear out the Astrodome, and then we had to evacuate Houston – a region of four million people – at the same time,” Rankin says.

In September 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall near Houston, causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage and leaving the fourth-largest U.S. city without power for 14 days (or 21 days, in some spots). Rankin’s team mobilized a points-of-distribution system that dispatched 3,000 18-wheelers from the Astrodome to deliver water, ice, and food throughout the three most severely affected counties. “We fed several hundred thousand people in the area, all while electricity was out,” Rankin says.

Moving a quarter-million evacuees from emergency shelter to transitional housing to rebuilt communities, Rankin recognized shortcomings in the United States’ approach to disaster recovery. “The way the system is set up – and you’ll find systems like this worldwide – our disaster experts are not really recovery experts. They are emergency experts. They’re the ‘firefighters’ coming to bring you water and food during a disaster, making sure you have medicine and kits. Now, those are crucial things that need to take place, but there is no office in America called the Disaster Recovery Office,” he points out.

Every administration, every president, every country, whether a democracy or a communist country, approaches disaster this way, he continues. “Take Haiti, for instance. When disaster happens [referring to the January 2010 earthquake that claimed 230,000 lives], we run out, we send a bunch of bulldozers, we move the bricks and debris out of the way, and then we let time fade … and nobody really addresses the problem after the disaster,” he says.

Rankin doesn’t downplay the heroism and good will shown by the governments, nonprofit organizations and volunteers who rushed to help in Haiti. Yet, examining the quake from a recovery standpoint, he says these forces often “show up in helicopters, do their thing, pull out, and then there is no coordination of strategy for step-by-step rebuilding. This creates disaster after disaster because some 400,000 people – orphaned children or evacuees who’ve fled to the Haitian hillsides – are still looking for help from someone. But who is that someone?” he asks.

That someone doesn’t exist because there is no one person in charge to coordinate all the private relief donations, all the nonprofit funds and all the funds from federal and local agencies. Rankin points out a pressing need for a disaster recovery “czar,” a point person who coordinates the use of relief funds and oversees the disaster-torn area’s journey to put the community back together, step by step.

While arguing the need for a disaster recovery officer, Rankin also plans to advocate for laws to streamline recovery efforts, outlining the steps and timelines to be observed by those who receive money for recovery efforts. “We know what to do to put communities back together, and we know how long it should take,” he says. But often, delays come when those who carry out the recovery must wait on funds and approvals and bureaucracy.

The lessons Rankin has learned through Katrina and Ike recovery efforts extend beyond housing – even beyond U.S. borders. Any nation can plan for the known challenges to shelter, food, water, infrastructure and health care after a natural disaster. According to Rankin, the magnitude of recent disasters in Haiti and Japan must prompt them to do so, because “only then do nations become more agile in responding to the chaos and rebuilding from the rubble,” he says. “We have the engineers. We have the technology. We have the know-how. The question is do we have the will to set this kind of planning in motion?”


Guy Rankin, IV is the Chief Executive Officer for the Harris County Housing Authority (HCHA), a governmental agency which serves more than two million people and a service area of approximately 1100 square miles. With over 20 years of housing and community development experience, Mr. Rankin has garnered an international reputation of excellence for planning, housing development and recovery through accomplished change and innovation. Under his visionary leadership, HCHA has grown from a troubled agency to one of the best housing authorities in the country as recognized by the U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.

Linda Singerle is a journalist and writer for Wynn Solutions a company that offers customized services, including keynote speakers , corporate training programs, employee assessments and marketing services. Wynn Solutions provides its clients with the tools they need to create and sustain successful business relationships.

Positive Paranoia: Is it possible that some things you believe about yourself may not be true?

June 1, 2011

As a professional speaker I was in the airport the other day getting ready to fly to Las Vegas. (I’m there more than Cher.) I was relaxing at the President’s Club, eating cheap cheese and old fruit with all my elite-status, high-mileage brethren. The gentleman who sat down beside me wore a baseball cap that read “NYC Police.” He proceeded to tell me he was an undercover cop, so I had to ask, “Then you only wear this hat on your days off?”

I think a great number of people have no idea how they appear to others. You could fill a large psychiatry office with all the books that have been written about how we perceive ourselves. But few books have any real impact in the area of how we are viewed by others. Taking a look at how others see us is not an easy thing to do. However, if we want to have enough personal influence to make all the communication skills and brilliant ideas we have succeed, willingness needs to raise its ugly head. For example, if you sit down to put on your rollerblades and your spouse calls out “Honey, please be careful,” it means you do not skate well! If people look at your artwork and say things like “Wow, you sure used a lot of paint!” or “This would look awesome in the garage,” it means you don’t have any talent.

Getting honest about who you really are to others is crucial to success. It’s a practice common among top businesspeople. In our 10-year survey of 5,000 top professionals, Wynn Solutions found that the most successful – the top 1% – had a realistic view of how others perceived them. This dose of realism serves them well because they can influence others only as far as those others will allow. So if the great self-portrait I’ve painted in my mind far exceeds the exhibit I’ve put on display to the public, I’ll struggle to convince anyone of my genius.

Believing in yourself is great, but you need others also to believe in you if you hope to motivate or lead people in the direction you want. It’s good to have confidence, and certainly self-esteem is important … but if I believed I was OK regardless of society’s opinions, I would be at the grocery store in my underwear.

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that something’s true if we just believe strongly enough. I believe the speed limit on toll roads should be 100 mph. That’s slower than the no-speed-limit autobahn, so it seems fair to me. But the cop who pulled me over last week believed I should go to jail. So what I believe is often not only irrelevant; it’s illegal!

Is it possible that some things you believe about yourself may not be true? Can you ask a very close, give-it-to-you-straight friend how you come across to others? This may sound to some like an invitation to developing a slight case of paranoia. But spending your life obliviously unaware of what is preventing you from being seen as valuable is much worse. Being worried about not being OK makes you human and relevant. Showing up to the big board meeting in an ’80s dress with shoulder pads could make you (literally) history – especially if you are a man!

Why your keynote speaker MUST be funny

May 13, 2011

Why is it important to hire a funny keynote speaker especially when you are primarily interested in “killer content” for your audience?

Content + Humor: A Full-on Fusion Boosts Your Meeting’s Success

You know your organization’s objectives for the meeting. You spend time and effort to create the perfect event to support those goals. And then a dry, boring speaker single-handedly makes sure that attendees carry away nothing of value … except maybe a few bottled waters.

In today’s work world, a humorous keynote speaker is crucial to your meeting’s success. Studies show that people acquire more information and are more likely to retain and implement what they hear if they laugh along the way.  In recent years, advertisers, newscasters and educators have infused humor into their efforts to persuade, inform and instruct. They’ve realized that without original humor (not old, stale jokes), people just won’t tune in or pay close attention. Nothing against Walter Cronkite, but he just wasn’t funny – “and that’s the way it is!”

As we get busier and more distracted, it takes humor to grab an audience’s attention so the message can be delivered. Studies of college lecturers who use humor in the classroom indicate that humor positively affects attention, motivation and comprehension.

Done right, humor also improves recall of the subject or idea being communicated. Combining good content with original humor is a must at today’s meetings. Who hasn’t listened to some high-cost motivational speaker who wrote a fantastic book but who’s only halfway through the presentation before you realize the information would be really valuable if you could just stay awake for it?  Who hasn’t checked the watch or phone as boredom sets in and been surprised to realize that 10 minutes was all the speaker needed to completely lose the audience?

Subjected to speakers like that, attendees who provide conference feedback will comment “I thought the information was good,” which is code for “The speaker was not!” When association members under age 45 are asked why they no longer attend the annual meeting in their industry, they often say, “Well, the speakers are boring and I can get that information online.” The speaker you choose for your event creates the impact and memorable experience you desire for your attendees. If studies show that effective teaching in college classrooms revolves around the connection established between the instructor and the student, then your event should be built around speakers who establish that connection and make the content memorable. Humor is key to both.

And yet, the combination of real business content and original humor is not always easy to find. Some speakers are mainly humorists who tell loads of funny stories with little relevance; other speakers who offer rock-solid content can really struggle to include humor that produces a laugh. Your best results will come from a speaker who understands that it’s not so much a balance of content and humor; it’s a full-on fusion of the two.

This kind of speaker uses funny stories that are on point; in fact, the humor exists to make the point. This kind of speaker makes sure that anecdotes and jokes provide a memorable context for information recall.4 There’s little comparison to speakers who rely on clownish humor that undercuts their authority. Frankly, silly doesn’t fly among VP types. Silly might attract attention but it doesn’t sell the message. It makes your event memorable for the wrong reasons.

It’s worth the search to find that speaker whose expert use of humor keeps your group engaged and taking notes on information they can use to forward their success. When your aim is to have people leave your event feeling informed and energized, forgoing the humor is no laughing matter.

“Comedy is truth – only faster. Things are funny because they’re true. If people relate, they retain.”

Garrison Wynn, on the power of comedy to cement lessons in an audience’s mind

1 Studies from Bandes (1988), Bryant et al. (1979), Wandersee (1982), and Gorham & Christophel (1990), cited in Kher N, Molstad S, Donahue R, 1999: “Using humor in the college classroom to enhance teaching effectiveness in ‘dread courses,’” College Student Journal 33(3): 400. Available at, accessed April 22, 2011.

2 Conclusion reached in study by Hill (1988), cited in Kher, Molstad & Donahue (1999).

3 Pollio HR and Humphreys WL (1996): “What award-winning lecturers say about their teaching: It’s all about connection.” College Teaching 44, 101-106.

4 Kher, Molstad & Donahue (1999), citing study by Hill (1988).

Additional Resources: Basics of verbal communication using humor , Funny Business Entertainment Agency

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