• Barb Mayfield

Have you heard the one about…?


… the Italian chef?

He pasta way.

Could you use a good laugh? So could I! The more often the better.

We all need laughter, and plenty of it. “Laughter is good medicine” originates from the book of Proverbs (17:22) and is supported by ample scientific evidence.

According to the Mayo Clinic(1) laughter relieves stress, strengthens the immune system, and improves your mood. Psychologists recognize the benefits of laughter in enhancing human connections, strengthening relationships, and defusing anger and anxiety.(2)

As a speaker, I am experimenting with infusing humor into a speech about miscommunication and how we can conquer it. I find that since miscommunication is a problem we all share, humor helps us laugh at our mistakes and recognize our common need to gain clarity and understanding. Laughing at ourselves is healthy. Once we accept our foibles we are ready to acknowledge our need to make necessary adjustments. In the case of preventing miscommunication, that includes things as simple as avoiding jargon, or proofreading an email or text before hitting send.

What are the benefits of using humor in a speech, or an article, or any other type of communication?

  • Humor is a great attention-getter. People love to laugh.

  • Humor helps form an emotional connection between presenter and audience.

  • Humor can help make a point more memorable.

  • When having fun, an audience is more receptive to learning and accepting new ideas.

As Chris Anderson said in TED Talks, “Audiences who laugh with you quickly come to like you. And if people like you, they’re much readier to take seriously what you have to say. Laughter blows open someone’s defenses, and suddenly you have a chance to truly communicate with them.”(3)

Recommendations for using humor in professional presentations include this advice:

  • Make it relevant to your topic,

  • Keep it clean – don’t be offensive (know your audience!), and

  • Never laugh at the expense of others – but laughing at yourself is okay.

  • True (funny) stories are generally better choices than made-up ones. Some of the funniest humor is based on every-day observations and real-life anecdotes related to your topic.

Although I love to laugh, I am no stand-up comedian. Practicing both the content and the delivery of my humorous stories and examples is stretching me as a presenter; but, in a good way. Stretching to learn a new skill is good for my growth.

Have you heard the one about the corduroy pillow? It’s making headlines!

“Whoever said laughter is the best medicine was right - it's also the glue that holds friendships together. To laugh together at life's ridiculous turn of events makes those events bearable. To laugh at the funny things in life makes life wonderful. The real gift is having a friend to share…laughter with.”

― Ellen Jacob, You're The Best Friend Ever

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200304/the-benefits-laughter

  3. Anderson C. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

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