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My kiddo’s third grade teacher rocks.   Check out the spelling test that she gave her class yesterday.  (Imagine taking this test…slowly… one word at a time.)

1.   There
2.   Is
3.   Really
4.   No
5.   Test
6.   Today
7.   April
8.   Fools
9.   Ha
10. Ha
11.  Ha
12.  Ha

She  had the kids giggling at #5.   What a great teacher!

What I love is that this awesome teacher definitely had as much fun as her kids did.   She took the lead in CREATING fun and joy in her work day.   She had fun… and because her kids had fun she is a better teacher.

My point:  having fun at work makes you better at work.  Just ask my kid’s teacher.

Do you need a funny speaker for your meeting (and want to skip the spelling test?)   Contact me here!

Brad Montgomery
Humor at Work Expert, Meeting Energizer, Fan of Funny Teachers

PS.   She also gave them a Word Search in which none of words to be found were actually in the letter grid.  Brilliant!

Hap-py New Year and welcome to the second edition of the “Humor in the Workplace” humor in the workplace blog carnivalBlog Carnival! Better late than never, right?

To satisfy your insatiable need for humorous anectdotes, I’ve opened the floodgates and scoured the web. As result, not everyone is technically aware that they’re participating in this edition but as soon as they find out, I’m certain that they’ll be flattered, overjoyed and innundating me with posts for future editions.

Without futher ado, may I present “Humor in the Workplace” resolution style. ‘Cuz that’s how we roll!

1. I resolve to put work in it’s proper perspective (Sandee
contributed this short and clever parable about the wisdom of NOT
working hard):

The Fisherman

2. I resolve to find a low-stress job:

Got Stress
(Bob Goldman rates a few professions based on the level of stress. Guess what? I win!!)

3. I resolve to follow these guidelines for all holiday work functions (Cyde Fahlman offers tips to avoid holiday stress but really, they’re year ’round effective!):

Holiday Stress

4. I resolve to bring joy and levity to my work environment on a regular basis:

10 Things To Do To A Co-Workers Desk

(Thanks, Mike! These practical jokes are pretty funny!)

5. I resolve to polish my interview skills……just in case! (Chris shares his interview experiences with us. I feel bad for Chris. Really. I do.):

Why I Fail Interviews

6. I resolve to keep in mind these all-important tips when participating in meetings (Madeleine Begun Kane gives us the skinny on how to effectively [ha,ha] communicate in meetings):

Those Unspeakable Meetings

7. I resolve to not try so hard to be funny (John Kinde lets the secret out of the bag on successful humor):

Be Funny By Doing Less

>>>>>>>

Thanks to all of our bloggers for submitting to the carnival. We’ll do it again in about one month. If you are interested in submitting to our next carnival, contact us here or by emailing kirstie “at” bradmontgomery.com

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One of my best pals from way back when (we both had hair) is Craig Young.  He left a hefty salary by jumping off the corporate ship to follow his passion.  He was a big deal at Accenture and decided that he wanted more.  He wanted to be a high school teacher.   I speak pretty often…. Craig speaks to high school “audiences” every day.

In this photo, Craig looks like he is a little bit cazy, a little bit sick — and a little bit scared.   I’m totally jealous of him.  Here’s what he said about this flight:  

In Sept. I had a chance to go on a parabolic flight to experience weightlessness – the same type of flights that NASA uses to train astronauts for weightlessness.  This week, I finally received the photos and videos from the event.  Attached is one of the better photos of me being “weightless”. 

The weightless flight was a deal for science and math teachers sponsored by Northrop Grumman (a CA defense contractor).  Their goal is to inspire teachers who can then inspire students to pursue math and science…and turn into nice little engineers working for defense contractors.  Anyway, I applied in the spring and found out in August that I’d been selected.  We
got together in early Sept to design some experiments showing the effects of weightless.  The flight was on Sept 18.  It was basically an all-day event, but the flight was only 90 minutes.  We flew out of San Jose over the Pacific Ocean.  Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the plane started doing these crazy roller-coaster-like hills – climbing at a 50-degree angle then putting the engines in neutral and letting Earth’s gravity pull us through a parabola.  We did that 15 times and got about 20 seconds of weightlessness each time.    It was a phenomenal experience!

My teammates and I had planned only 4  experiments we wanted to perform, thinking that it would take a while to get acclimated and to collect our wits.  I never collected my wits!  Every time we went into freefall, I got giddy and could barely concentrate on what we were doing.  It was such a different sensation than I had imagined.  We did get our experiments completed but the video I took was a complete waste – fingers in the way, pictures of feet, backs, floors, ceilings – everything but the experiments.  Luckily, the company had a professional photographer and mounted video cameras so we got some great footage from them.  As I said
before, if I needed another reason to be a science teacher, that was it.

My students all got 2 days of weightlessness discussion – 1 the day after the flight and another when the videos came in.  I also got to keep the flightsuit so I wore that both days to school and on Halloween.

My pal Craig worked hard, made extremely tough choices, and in the end found his passion;  he’s found his home. 
 
I’m proud of him…and am inspired by him.   But never more than when he sent this photo.     

My point: Are you following your passion?  Are you making sure that fun is driving you?  That you are driving fun?   Can you find “great reasons” to be doing what you are doing?
 

Way to go Craig!
 
Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Educator, Fan of Folks with Passion
PS.  I want a flight suit too, but I’m afraid I’d barf all over the place on my way to earning it.

I just sent this postcard out to some of my top clients.  I think it is funny…. after all, if these guys don’t need a motivational speaker, who does?  Sheesh, I’ve had some fun watching the campaign, and tons of fun mocking it.  But now I’m ready for it to be over.
 

Quiz:  Can you tell by these photos who I really support?  Obama?  McCain? Let me know (by commenting below) who I support and how you can tell) and the winner will FREE receive a subscription to Hooked On Humor.

Thanks Kids. Either way, we’re nearly done. The polls will tell us who will win the election. Now….who’s gonna win the quiz? Take a chance and comment below.

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Quiz Giver, Political Hack

LaffyTaffy is a crappy, horrible, nasty candy. And I love it.

Let me explain:

I was goofing with my kids lately, and they were eating LaffyTaffy. (In case you don’t know it, this is a chewy candy that adults generally hate and kids generally love.)laffytaffy

The interesting thing about LaffyTaffy is that it makes my kids laugh. Really. They believe that when you eat it, you laugh. Seriously; they eat some, and they laugh.

So, what’s this got to do for the rest of us? My point is that sometimes laughter is a decision. Sometimes laughter is a choice. Sometimes being in a giggly, laughing mood is as simple as DECIDING that you’re gonna be in a good mood.

I know that it isn’t always that easy.  Simple yes.  Easy, no. I know that with the genuine and frequent stressors we face as adults it isn’t always EASY to just drop things and giggle. But kids and LaffyTaffy prove that laughter is a state of mind.

laffytaffy candyMy point? Next time you’re in a lousy mood see if you can talk yourself out of it intoand into a good mood. It’s possible, and kids prove it. And if that fails, and as a last resort, have some of that LaffyTaffy.

Hate LaffyTaffy and prefer to bring in a funny motivational comedian speaker to cheer up your troops? Click here for more info.

Cheers,

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Speaker, Humorist, and Lover of LaffyTaffy

Do you think humor increases your ability to perform?

I just read (belatedly…. It’s been busy) an article about the golfers in the The Ryder Cup.

One US player, Anthony Kim, had everyone on the US team laughing.“He’s a funny guy,” said Paul Azinger, the USA team captain.

And then, after a 9 year drought, the USA team beat the Europeans.

The Rocky Mountain News reported that usually it’s the European team laughing it up, teasing each other, and generally keeping the tone light.   This year, it was the American team.

What’s my point?  You have to be relaxed to play golf well.  And laughter is a great way to relax.  (And its safer than Valium.)

Could humor have been the deciding factor in the Ryder Cup? Almost certainly.

Sure, skill is important.  Sure, confidence and other mental factors enter into the equation.  But in this case, it looks like laughter might have been the not-so-secret weapon.

Hey golfers!  Next time you’re thinking about buying that $300 driver or the $400 putter?  Perhaps your money would be better spent buying some audio recordings of your favorite funny speakers or comedians.

Hey kids….why not listen to me?

(Yes, I’d love you to buy my CD.   I’ll use 100% of the proceeds earned from the sale of my funny keynote recording to buy a some new golf balls.  Mine are at the bottom of the lake.   I had a very tense day – apparently unable to follow my own advice.)

I collect Office Pranks that Won’t Get You Fired. Do you think this peanuts-in-cubical gag would get you fired?

I’ve written a little on practical jokes that work well in the office.  All depends on your boss and her sense of humor, and your intentions.  My magic rule is:  If this practical joke will hurt somebody’s feelings, it’s likely to get you a trip to HR.  Pass on it and keep your job.  And your friends.

When people tease you, (and play safe practical jokes on you) it can make you feel special…a part of the team…one of the “cool” kids, you know. Teasing is harmless, in perspective, and can work wonders for office morale. If people don’t tease you, it may be that they don’t trust you enough to let their guard down. Office pranks can (oddly enough) can make others feel good – “Hey, if they did this to me, they must think I’m one of the popular kids!”

Intentions count.  If, when you tease or joke on people, if you come from a place of friendship and joy — then you’re probably good to go.  If you’re ticked off at the victim — or hate their slimy guts — you’re officially advised abstain in order to prevent that “little talk” with your boss.

What is the BEST office prank that you’ve ever pulled or one you’ve ever witnessed? Were you the mastermind or the accomplice? Send me your best office prank comment and the most innovative prankster will win one of my books. If a photo accompanies your comment, I’ll post it on the blog and send you an audio. How cool is that?

Come on, tell me, what’s the slyest thing you’ve ever pulled at the office?

If you write the funniest caption for this photo, you can win a free copy of my book:
Humor Us: America’s Funniest Humorists On the Power of Laughter

Leave your submission below in the comment field, and if you’re one of the top two chosen submissions, we’ll send you a book. (Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists On the Power of Laughter.) (You’ll get the electronic version of the book.)

Here are some caption ideas submitted by other readers to help get your creative juices going. Have fun!

– – All we need are 132 gallons of ice cream, a bucket of chocolate, and 1339 cherries and it’s Banana Splits for the whole neighborhood!

– – What I’d give for a steak!

– – Potassium? Not a problem.

– – Whadda YOU looking at?

Submit your captions below as a comment.

Why is this caption writing relevant to you? Caption writing is a great exercise to loosen up your creativity skills. I’ve done this at the beginning of meetings with a few different photos and the result is a fun, relaxing, team-building exercise. Remember the rules: there is no such thing as a bad caption or idea. Write them all down, and celebrate the VOLUME of captions more than the QUALITY.

Need to kick start a meeting? Try this exercise and see the energy and creativity get a boost even before you start.

Learn more about my work as a motivational keynote speaker here.

Cheers,

Brad Montgomery
Motivational Keynote Speaker, Humorist, Caption Writer,

Technorati Tags: caption contest, funny photos, contest, motivational speakers

Do YOU think humor has a place in business? I sure do. Check out this excerpt form a humor newsletter from Humorist Roz Trieber.

“Research demonstrates there is a significant correlation between humor and leadership effectiveness (Priest and Swain, 2002). Organizational culture, in the military and elsewhere, supports the use of humor by leaders in appropriate ways. The United States Army leadership manual describes, “Having a good sense of humor” as a valuable character trait for leaders (Department of Army, 1983). It was found that cadets at the United States Military Academy who use humor as a coping strategy were less likely to quit or make mistakes. In addition, humor employed by managers and leaders achieve three specific ends: 1) stress reduction in the workplace, 2) helping employees understand management concerns by enhancing communication patterns, and 3) motivating followers (Davis and Kleiner, 1989). Good leaders who use good-natured jest put others at ease. Those who cannot laugh or joke about their imperfections or personal failings are correlated with other characteristics of “bad leaders,” A majority of good leaders are shown to have quick wit, see the point of jokes, maintain group morale through extraverted humor vs. mean spirited humor, have infectious laughs, and tell humorous satires in dialect (Priest and Swain, 2002).

What this really means is that there is improved communication with less misunderstanding, and increased desire to come to work, and an increase in creativity and productivity (Decker and Rotondo, 2001). In summary, humor in the workplace promotes physical and mental health, fosters mental flexibility, and acts as a social lubricant (Morreall, 1983). ”

Thanks Roz. Awesome Work.

I’m on the plane coming home from a date with the ID Potato Shipper Growers Association. (Yup, potato industry folks really needed a humorist motivational speaker… their industry is going through some HUGE changes.)

I loved the date… the folks were nice. The potato humor was fast and furious (no… I’m not kidding… potato humor) and if you go by the comments the audience (and my meeting planner) gave me after the talk, the message was well-received.

But by far the best part was making a difference for the victims of hurricane Katrina.

I often sell books, tapes and other products after my programs. But I had no plans to do so at this event. But, at the last minute I grabbed as many copies of my book, Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter and shoved ’em in my bag.

I told the audience this: ” The books list at $16.95. I usually sell them for $15. Tonight they are $20… and I’ll tell ya why. Tonight we are gonna sell out and give ALL of the money to the Red Cross for the hurricane.

My 19 books should have earned $380. (I’m tellin’ ya… that’s all I could fit in my bag!) But because these big-hearted people were so generous — and because they kept re-selling the last 2 books over and over and over again— we made $609 in 12 minutes. That can buy a bunch of potatoes for the folks who need them most.

I’m humbled and flattered. Last night we proved that humor can make a difference.

Pages

Humor Us: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter

Introduction to the Book |  Sample Chapter by Brad Montgomery, CSP

Copyright ©2006   Brad Montgomery Productions

Long before I became a speaker, I was a comedian/magician. One day I was at the Post Office buying stamps. I had my paws full of press kits, and I was hoping that mailing out these envelopes would push my career to the next level. (To be honest, I was so desperate I’d have settled for pushing my career around the block.)
The postman behind the counter asked, “Flag stamps or love stamps?”
“Flag stamps,” I said. “These stamps are for business.”
“Oh? You can’t have both at the same time?” That was one smart postman. Too bad it took me 10 years to understand how smart he was.

Get ready, folks, because here is my point in a nutshell:  Substitute “humor” for “love,” and the postman was right. I’m pretty sure that “love” and “business” can fit together (although the tiny cubicles make it a bit of a challenge). But I am certain that humor and business should fit together.

Your Business Is a Joke
Probably not — but it should be. Business should be fun. Most of us spend nearly as much time at our jobs as we do at home. (Unless you count the time we sleep. But if you’re gonna be that nit-picky, we’re gonna have some problems. Work with me here.) Because we do spend so much time working, it makes a ton of sense to figure out a way to enjoy our jobs, not just tolerate them. It turns out that adding humor, lightheartedness, and cheerfulness to the work day helps you get what you want. Using humor in business can improve your bottom line.

The business world has changed. Most of us will have several careers in our lifetimes, while our grandfathershad only one. Business skill sets and requirements change quicker than ever. (If you work in health care, your job has changed since you started this book. If you work in high-tech, your job has changed since you started this chapter.) Employee morale, recruitment, and retention are genuine business concerns. And the entrance of technology-driven younger generations into the workforce has changed our expectations of the workplace. (Does “business casual” mean pierced nose or pierced lip?)
If employee productivity, morale, recruitment, and retention are important to you and your business, then you already instinctively know how important it is to lighten up your workplace.
Trust Me; This Works


Ever hear the cliché “Our business is a relationship business”? Well, guess what? All business is a relationship business. Folks choose to do business with people they like. And there isn’t a person with a pulse who doesn’t prefer to work with folks who know how to laugh. (Who would you rather work with: Yoda or Darth Vader? Jay Leno or the cop who gave you your last speeding ticket? Donald Duck or the Evil Queen from Snow White?) You can laugh your way to the bank.
But the relationship between humor and business success is deeper than that. It’s more than assuming that if you make a joke you’ll make more sales, increase your productivity or improve your management skills. The real secret is that although people do business with people they like, they also do business with people they trust. And, lucky you — adding a bit of humor to your business will help folks to both like and trust you. (Unless your humor consists primarily of shock buzzers and whoopee cushions. Then they’ll just avoid you. Unless you’re only doing business with 14-year-old boys, in which case—go for it!)
Have you ever noticed that you laugh the most with people you trust? My wife and I are close friends with two other couples. We were in each other’s weddings. We’ve had some amazing times together, both terrific and horrific. Our favorite pastime is to get together for dinner, wine, and laughter. There isn’t anything we can’t say to each other. There isn’t any topic we need to avoid. There isn’t one person among us we can’t safely tease. Why? We trust each other. (Come to think of it, the wine might have something to do with it too. But I digress …)

This connection between trust and laughter can help you in your job. We all love salespeople who can poke fun at themselves and even at their products. We love health care providers who can see the irony and absurdity in the medical world. We love teachers who can let their guards down and giggle and admit they don’t know everything. The bottom line is that when we see others laugh—and when they make us laugh—we trust them more.
We like them more.
And we do more business with people we like.
It Works? Says Who?
Tanja Pahs is a mortgage pro on the rise. One of her jobs is to approve or refuse mortgages prepared by her staff. Her staff has many incentives for getting these loans approved, so when staff members come into Tanja’s
office to “pitch” a loan to her, they are often uptight, nervous, and very serious.
“I just let them come in and do their thing.” Tanja explains. “They sit quietly and tell me seriously why this loan should go through. When they’re finished, they anxiously await my answer.

“Work should be fun, so I often let their question
sit there for a moment in the silent room with us. Then I answer very solemnly, ‘Well, let’s see what the Magic 8 Ball has to say about this loan.’” She then reaches for that goofy toy that “predicts the future” with a small collection of answers like “Good idea,” “Yes,” or “Better luck next time.”
For Tanja, this tiny bit of humor breaks through the tension in the workplace and replaces it with a mood more conducive to success. It’s a way to give her staff permission to relax. Once the tension is broken, Tanja believes that she and the staff member can better judge what to do about the loan request. Besides, as Tanja says, “Who can be serious all day?”
Tanja is able to add humor without making fun of anybody, without a bunch of witty one liners, and without throwing a bunch of fish. (Gross!) Humor doesn’t always have to be punch lines. Sometimes humor is giving yourself — and your workmates — permission to take the job less seriously.
Wizardry on the Job

I recently spoke at a convention of people employed by the state of Colorado. The speaker who followedme was the big boss of everybody in the room. She hid in the hall with me until they introduced her, then she entered the room dressed as a wizard (pointy hat, long robe with stars and moons, magic wand). As she made her way to the platform, she threw glitter on the tables and made silly comments.
Her staff reacted with chuckles and giggles. Folks weren’t falling into the aisles laughing, but they were grinning.
I thought it was a cool idea. But after talking to her later about her stunt, I thought it was an awesome idea. She told me that yes, it was a bit risky, but she is convinced that when her staff sees her take a fun but fairly meaningless risk, two things happen.
First, they’re more likely to take risks within their jobs and to accept responsibility for themselves. In the end, they achieve more. Second, because her employees see her poke fun at herself, they are more likely to trust her with genuine concerns, including complaints. Experience
has taught her she can only be a great leader if staff members are willing to share all of their concerns.
Wow. All this from a rented costume.

D’oh, It Works for Him
Or take the superintendent of a Virginia school district who told me he occasionallywho told me he occasionally wears Homer Simpson bedroom
slippers to work. He explained that when he started working in the district, there were some serious morale problems. The teachers were simply not convinced that the administration cared about them, their needs, and their concerns. The slippers help break down the walls, he believes, and are a way to connect with employees. As amazing as it seems, this man who has earned a Ph.D. uses stuffed footwear to contribute to a relationship of trust.

Sure, It’s a Bit Goofy
And how about the parole officer in Arizona who needed a way to lighten his job? This guy is not a Magic 8 Ball kinda guy … and he certainly isn’t a fuzzy slipper guy. He’s more of a follow-the-rules-or-I’ll-rip-your-tonsils-out kinda guy. But he is still human and needs humor to help make his job work for him.
This parole officer has a small magnet of Disney’s character Goofy, and every week or two he moves it to a new location in his office, like on the air-conditioning vent near the ceiling. He also has a small dish on his desk with chocolates. When parolees come into his office, he says in a very serious tone, “Sit down. Find Goofy, and you can have a chocolate.” He doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t explain what he means (unless they ask). And he doesn’t repeat it.
What’s this mean to him? For an officer with very serious and not-so-funny responsibilities, this simple game reminds him that one of his jobs is to stay sane. Humor is one of the best ways for him to keep from losing it.

See? Laughter Saves the Day
Then there is my daughter’s day care provider, Shiloh. She works out of her house, and gracefully takes care of five little kids. (And you thought the parole officer had a tough job!) A few days ago, my daughter and I were waiting for Shiloh to unlock the glass door — which of course she can see through — to let us in. As Shiloh neared the door, she shouted, “Who is it?” And then, she just broke out laughing at her own joke. (Because of course she could see us… the door was glass.)
Taking care of tiny kids can suck the life right out of you…if you can’t laugh, you’re done. Being playful not only enabled this woman to survive her job, it made it possible for her to enjoy her job. How cool is that?!
Punchlines in Airlines
I’m a professional speaker, which means I travel a lot. I’m amazed at how different flight crews see humor through different filters. For example, I was recently on a small connection plane, with only about 35 seats and two flight attendants. One of the flight attendants was doing her safety announcements when she began smiling. She became really animated and fun — she was clearly enjoying herself. Eventually, we figured out that the other flight attendant, in his seat in the last row, was making funny faces at her.

I asked her about it later. She explained that she hates it when he pulls that stunt, because “It is totally unprofessional.”

Smiling and laughing? Unprofessional?
Fast-forward a week or two when I was on a small plane on a different airline. Our plane was late arriving, and for some reason our take-off was being
delayed. Nerves were tight, as most folks needed this flight to be on time in order to make connections.
Let’s just say that folks weren’t holding hands and singing in the aisles.
The flight attendant picked up the microphone and, in a Southern drawl, cut to the chase. “Folks, I know you all want to find out what’s going on and how long it’s gonna take. And I want to tell you. Because we’re family. We’re in this plane together. But here’s the truth: I don’t know. I’ve only been in Little Rock for about 25 minutes and I have no idea.”
It was amazing. It was as though somebody popped the stress balloon. We laughed and relaxed. He continued: “Folks, if you’d like, I can make something up about mechanical-this, or airports-that. I can pretend that I know stuff that I don’t. Or I can be intentionally vague. But like I said, we’re family, and family doesn’t lie to each other. Now let’s all just look out the window together
and see if we can figure out what the hold-up is.” More laughter.
The entire flight—which was in fact late enough to mess up most folks’ connections—was punctuated by this charming attendant and his totally disarming jokes. He announced, “Now, we know you are in a hurry, so we will be flying at an altitude of 400 feet so that we can make this flight in 11 minutes.” He asked us if we wanted “chicken or beef?” And gave us peanuts.

He asked us if we wanted a salad. More peanuts.
When he gave me my peanut-flavored chicken, I asked him about the gold star on his lapel. He told me (OK, he told us … it was a TINY plane) that he was a recent winner of the Outstanding Flight Attendant award. The entire plane erupted in applause, because it was obvious that he was an outstanding flight attendant.
(We would have given him a standing ovation, but our belts were low and tight across our laps.)
I thought back to the first flight attendant, who thought laughter and smiles were unprofessional. The second attendant was a pro, and was recognized
as such by his airline and by this planeload of passengers.
Humor not consistent with business? Oh, please. The second attendant not only enjoyed his job way more than his peer, but he made a difference to his customers. He earned our trust (and our continued business) through a liberal dose of humor.

Mixing Humor With YOUR Business
Let’s face it, not everyone could pull off making a planeload of upset travelers laugh. And many of us would pay huge money not to wear a wizard costume or Homer Simpson slippers in front of our colleagues. Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s fine for them … but what about me?”
Well good news, Skippy, because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Most of us could pull off something subtle like hiding a magnet in our office. But there’s plenty of stuff you can do that’s even easier. And best of all, you don’t have to be funny. You just have to have fun. (Check out Patt Schwab’s chapter in this book for more ideas.)


Here are four things you can do TODAY to add more humor to your business:

• Leave a funny message on your answering service. Instead of, “I’m out of the office,” try: “I’m probably down the hall fighting with the copy machine” or “at the coffee machine,” or maybe “playing computer solitaire and don’t want to pick up, but leave a message at the beep.”
• Add a joke to your e-mail signature. Or maybe add some made-up credentials to your name. Sometimes I sign myself Brad Montgomery, CSP, MTOU*. Under that, I put *CSP = Certified Speaking Professional; MTOU = Made This One Up. I’m amazed at how many people comment on my e-mail signatures.
• Consider leaving crank phone messages for both your workmates and your clients. Most adults haven’t gotten a crank call for a couple of decades. Trust me, fun, spirited crank calls will make some people’s business days. “Is your refrigerator running?” is really funny when you’re talking to somebody in a cubicle.
• This is my favorite ‘cause it is so easy. Laugh. Just laugh. When you enjoy yourself at work, you’ll give the folks you are working with the signal that you enjoy humor. Lighten up, and the world will follow.


Don’t Just Stand There

Humor works. Not only does it help us enjoy our jobs, it helps us achieve more in business. Would you want to brag on your deathbed that you never laughed at work? That work was always toil and never enjoyable? Wouldn’t you rather brag that you lived your life with a smile on your face? (Or at least, in the pursuit of having a smile on your face.) Humor helps forge personal relationships through trust. And better relationships mean better business.

Copyright ©2006   Brad Montgomery Productions, Denver Colorado.  Do not reprint or post on any website without express written consent from Brad Montgomery Productions, Inc.


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Touch Your Audience with Stories
Listeners will remember the drama and the humor, and chances are good they’ll remember your point as well.

It was stormy and almost midnight. On an isolated country road in Missouri, my truck plowed into a section of flash flooding. Water shot up on the right and left and over the hood. The engine died. And it wouldn’t start. All I could see was water in every direction and tree branches floating in front of the truck. There would be no traffic until sunrise…

This is a true story. It happened to me. It has become an eight-minute vignette with lessons learned and several laugh lines along the way.

Stories grab your audience. Listeners will remember the drama and the humor, and chances are good they’ll remember your point as well.

But what comes first_the story or the point? Personally, I never start with a point and then look for a story or joke to fit it. I used to do that, but I’ve found that it works better to find the story first and then discover the natural points that flow from it. A good story will usually make at least two or three insightful points. And with a good arsenal of stories, you’ll be able to support almost any point you want to make.

You can come up with great stories just by being alert to everyday events. I recommend zeroing in on the following five areas when looking for story material:

Look for difficult and traumatic events. Obviously, these events aren’t funny when they happen, but sometimes an event will generate a thought like “Someday I’ll laugh at this.” I wasn’t laughing the night I was stranded in the flood waters! But after the ordeal is over, I look for the humorous twists. The process of always being on the lookout for stories often becomes a helpful coping device. When a challenge hits you, you might think, “What a speech this will make!”

– Focus on lessons learned and personal growth that resulted from tough times. These provide story material you can use to teach others. I learned several life lessons from the death of my marketing director’s grandson. I now share those lessons with my audience.

– Key in on funny circumstances. Returning from a family trip to Orlando, we unloaded all the bags from the car trunk onto a dolly at the airport. The leverage point made the handle of the dolly too low for me to pull comfortably, but it was just right for my mother. As we walked through the terminal, a funny picture hit me as I realized how this must look to other people. My mom was in the center, flanked by me (6’3″) and Michael (6’4″). And my mom (5’3″ and 70 years old) was pulling all the luggage! When I shared this view with mom and Michael, we stood in the crowded terminal laughing uncontrollably.

– Focus on funny things said by you or someone else. My dad has a dry and subtle sense of humor. In a slow-moving supermarket line, he turned to the woman behind him and said, “I hate these fast moving lines. They stir up so much dust!” That’s Norwegian humor, and it provided the seed for one of my presentations on humor.

– And then there are embarrassing moments. What a gold mine for stories. Fellow humorist, Patsy Dooley, tells us about her first helicopter ride, discovering a weigh-in was required. “Nobody told me about a weigh-in. Weigh-ins are not my favorite adventure!” This event gave her a hilarious 10 minute signature story that has audiences rolling with laughter.

As daily events happen and you’re on the lookout for stories, you’ll spot potential gems you could use. You need to save the story ideas. Write them down. Or if you’re driving, put them on tape or on a digital voice recorder. You may have power steering and power brakes. A micro-recorder is your power memory!

ADDING IMPACT TO YOUR STORY

Later, spend some time developing each story. Tear it in small segments and look for unusual and humorous twists. What are the funny perspectives? What could be learned from this situation? Reflect on the story just before you drop off to sleep and again right after you wake up_creative ideas tend to pop into your head during those times.

Then shape your observations and thoughts into a five-to-seven minute speech vignette. Dress it up with a colorful description. Paint a picture. As much as possible, don’t just tell them, use your skills to show them with descriptive body language to illustrate the story and paint a picture into your listeners’ minds. Use photos or props.

And use vocal variety to show your passion and sustain interest. Would an accent add color? Your vocal qualities can help you develop and define characters within your story.

When you deliver the story, and especially when you drive your point home, hold the eye contact for a few extra seconds to land the point.

To add power to your speaking, get into the habit of focusing on events around you. Collect your own personal tales and shape them into powerful signature stories that will touch the hearts and memories of your audience.

 

 

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Motivational speaker home

by Dr. Joseph Michelli

Some fortunate children are exposed to adults who know the constructive value of a well-placed misdirection or exaggeration, while others are subjected to often joyless, overly serious adults.

I have been lecturing nationally for a number of years on the use of humor in a variety of different situations. During these presentations, I typically teach humor skills and the value of humor in handling difficult people at work, managing change and improving immune functioning or overall health.

During this time, I also have privately experimented with the role humor plays in raising children. These experiments have been conducted on my resident laboratory animals, Andrew (6) and Fiona (2-1/2).

In 1996, I had the good fortune of meeting Jim Fay, who was a guest on my nationally syndicated radio show, Wishing You Well. Jim’s wisdom and clarity about parenting were paralleled by his heartwarming stories.

During the interview, Jim’s reflections on parenting frequently were witty and light- hearted. He seemed to suggest that adults can avoid overreacting to the “crisis du jour” by gaining distance through humor. This radio interview led to other conversations about humor and parenting and ultimately to a new book from the Love and Logic Press entitled Humor, Play and Laughter: Stress- proofing Life with Your Kids.

Why Humor?

Helping parents and teachers gain or regain the power of humor skills can greatly facilitate a Love and Logic approach to raising children. This benefit occurs in large measure because humor offers the opportunity to distance oneself from initial reactions to children’s behavior.

It is in this slightly removed place that we often can most effectively craft loving and logical responses to children’s behavior. Additionally, teaching children the appropriate timing, location and use of humor has a variety of benefits for them in their social, intellectual and emotional development.

Charles Shultz, the creator of Peanuts comic, said it best when he noted, “The greatest gift we can give the next generation is the ability to laugh at themselves.”

Humor Appreciation vs. Humor Skills

Most people think of humor as a “sense.” much like taste vision or hearing. In fact, humor can be looked at as either a cognitive set (a way of looking at life or a group of skills for enhancing the enjoyment of life by others.

A humorous attitude represents a willingness to track absurdity or incongruity with a spirit of amusement or whimsy. Its been said that people with excellent humor appreciation can find “great joy during detours.

Learning to be amused, as opposed to agitated, by the unexpected or unpredictable behavior of children is critical to surviving their volatility. Similarly, knowing how to produce humor can greatly enhance the cooperation and mood of a non-cooperative child.

Enhancing Humor Appreciation

We are what we track. When my wife was. pregnant seemed like everyone was pregnant. When I bought my new car everyone else had purchased the same car – even in the same color.

Since much our life is spent tracking things such as our children’s misbehavior, bills and possible corporate downsizing, it is no wonder that humor appreciation skills can become rusty.

Comedian and author Steve Allen noted that the “funniest things in life are the unintended humor of reality.” All of us would benefit from becoming more awake to the unintended humor moments of parenting and teaching.

Additionally, we can encourage children to develop their “comic vision” as a central way to enhance the experience of humor in our homes and classrooms.

Simple techniques like keeping a journal of funny events, placing humorous cartoons on the refrigerator or chalkboard and sharing the absurd events of the day can encourage and enhance the humor awareness of family member and classroom members.

Humor Production

By spending a small amount of time learning and practicing the basics of comedy, parents and teachers can become far more effective at producing and using humor at home or in the classroom. Please realize that I am no talking about telling jokes.

Recent research suggests that 90 percent of people don’t tell jokes particularly well; unfortunately, that does not stop a lot of them from trying. By humor production skills, I primarily, mean such things as good news/bad news techniques, exaggeration and misdirection.

A friend recently told me how she and her 7-year-old daughter, Sarah, colluded to misdirect her husband and ultimately the behavior of Sarah.

Sarah apparently had the habit of wiping her hands on her clothing, as opposed to her napkin. In response to this Sarah’s father continually encouraged, begged and even bribed her to use better manners. Despite these efforts on her father’s part, Sarah’s behavior had not changed.

Prior to an upcoming meal, Sarah’s mother advised her to hide her napkin on her lap so Sarah’s father could not see it. She further instructed her to wipe her hands on her napkin in a way that caused Sarah’s father to think she was engaging in her typical behavior.

When Sarah’s father began his verbal disapproval of Sarah’s dining habits, she and her mother began to laugh and Sarah waved the hidden napkin at her father. While Sarah and her mother had misdirected Sarah’s father, Sarah’s own behavior had been misdirected away from wiping her hands on her clothing to using the napkin.

Many examples of humor production techniques and activities can be found in Humor, Play and Laughter: Stress-Proofing Life With Your Kids (hint!, hint!)

Opportunities abound for creative use of humor techniques with our children, and when all else fails we can turn these techniques back toward us. Using humor to cope with parenting and teaching enable us to take our jobs as parents and teachers seriously but to take ourselves lightly.

I believe that laughter in a classroom can facilitate learning and that families that laugh – last. With practice using humor, play and laughter in the classroom and in family life, we can lessen stress and strengthen bonds with children.

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Copyright 2005 by Dr. Joseph Mitchelli. Reprinted with permission. Joseph is a professional (and funny) motivational speaker based in Colorado. You can reach Joseph at www.HumorProfits.com

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Use Comedy To Improve Programs

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