Laughter helps people relax and opens them up to new ideas. It clears the mind, releases stress and breaks down barriers. Who says work and fun can’t mix? Next time you’ve got some serious work to do, try a few of these ideas to bring humor and lightheartedness into your meetings. You might be surprised at the results.
1. You’ve got to be joking
Starting a meeting with a joke can be a way to “break the ice” and get people engaged. You can also use jokes as a way to take break every 30 minutes or so.
As well as having some jokes prepared, invite your participants to share jokes too. Maybe there will not be so many the first time you ask but if they hear a good one in between meetings they’ll remember it for next time. You could even set a challenge to invent new jokes and give a prize for the best.
Make sure your jokes are appropriate. Office related humor and childish humor go down well in the workplace, you know, every adult is still a kid at heart, somewhere deep down inside.
Read our blog post on what you can learn from a four-year-old about good meeting culture
2. Silly hats
You’ve heard of the Six Thinking Hats, a facilitation technique developed by Edward de Bono for group discussion? With this technique, participants metaphorically put on different “hats” to contribute different modes of thinking to the meeting, such as critical, optimistic and creative.
What about some real hats - silly hats and funny glasses and fake moustaches, there's no reason they should only be reserved for the Christmas party. If humor is what you are looking for, why not try some "dress-ups" in your meetings. It will help your participants lighten up and show some new sides of their personality.
3. Laugh for no reason
Laughter yoga is an exercise routine that was developed by Indian physician Madan Kataria. It’s based on the premise that forced laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. It uses a range of playful techniques to induce laughter that can be applied in the workplace and used in fun meetings.
Sounds weird? It might just be weird enough to get your colleagues rolling around on the floor, crying with laughter. Then again, it might not be that weird. BBC and Google are using laughter yoga and publications such as TIME Magazine, The New Yorker and Wall Street Journal have written about it.
4. Share a funny story
"A funny thing happened to me on the way to the office..."
Invite your participants to share a funny story or the funniest thing that happened since the last meeting. It’s an interesting way to get to know each other and develop storytelling skills in your organization.
5. Hire a comedian
Many professional comedians have a “business package” where they use comedy as a mode for training and boosting communication skills, performance and creativity. Comedy goes beyond just entertainment, if you want people to take on a new perspective or a really important message, get them laughing first.
6. Show a funny video
This one gets me laughing every time.
A word of caution, what may be funny to one person can be offensive to another. Avoid anything even remotely sexist or racist. Keep the humor “family friendly” - is it a joke/story/video you would be comfortable sharing at the dinner table with the family? If you’re not sure, don’t go there.
At FirstAgenda, we think bad meetings are no laughing matter. Our mission is to save the world from ineffective meetings. FirstAgenda makes preparing for, holding and following up on meetings easier and more fun.
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