Is a Funny Business (or Motivational) Speaker A Bad Idea?
I just had a really interesting conversation with a client who knows I’m a motivational speaker, but is worried that I’m too funny. She loves me, she says. Thinks I’d be the perfect business speaker. But because her organization is going through some REALLY tough times, she’s afraid that if her people actually enjoy learning from me, she’ll get push back from her boss.
She basically asked me to justify myself. Which I took to be a great exercise. I decided to ask you what YOU think. Would this convince you?
You asked me to write up a bit about why investing in a happiness speaker who is funny would be a good investment for you. Here are some of the things we talked about on the phone:
• Most people (and organizations) have happiness backwards. They think that “when things get better” we will be more happy. But social scientists have proved that happy people (and happy organizations) perform WAY better than their unhappy counterparts. Therefore, investing in making happiness LEADS to better performance. (Not the other way around.)
It sounds to me that things have been tough for you folks; now is the time to invest in helping people perform at their best.
• According to Harvard, (and dozens of other studies) happy people are more creative, more innovative, more resilient, better leaders, better team members, healthier, sell more, and are more accurate than their less-happy counterparts.
• Often organizations wait until “Things are good” until they invest in their people’s attitudes and culture. This is a mistake. Organizations who are suffering the most (due to the economy or any other circumstance) are the very organizations WHO CANNOT AFFORD NOT to invest in happiness.
• Brad (that’s me!) is very funny on purpose. Audiences tune out when they see 149 PowerPoint slides, and a boring presentation telling them to “Really get to work because times are tough.” I use humor and laughter as a tool; I know — because I’ve done this for everybody from the Federal Government to Lockheed to Microsoft to associations all across the country — that people learn best when they are enjoying themselves. They listen. They learn. They adapt and change. So I use humor as a tool to make this message stick.
Organizations who don’t want a speaker because he is funny are missing the point. They should choose a speaker with a relevant and needed message who has a proven method of delivering that message in a way that their people will actually hear and learn from. I have a strong business message. I deliver it in a way that people connect with and learn from; It just turns out that my method includes laughter.
Of course I’d love to work with you. And from what I understand, I think your people could really use an outside perspective like mine; they can use a message that gives them the tools to perform at their very best. But I know some organizations are more comfortable with industry speakers, tradition and doing thing they way they have been done for years. Of course if you choose that route, I’ll be disappointed.
But if you’re ready to work with a proven speaker who can deliver a valuable message about how we can take control of our attitudes and our happiness — and that if we can do that we CAN improve our bottom line results— I’d love to be considered.
What do YOU think? Do you think it’s absolute crap to book a speaker who makes your group laugh when times are tough? (Or is it the opposite: that booking a VERY funny speaker to help your people get a handle on the attitudes in order to move forward is a great idea?)