How to Add Humor to your Staff Meeting

keynote speakerNext week I am the keynote inspirational speaker at another banking conference. To help me prepare for the conference speaking engagement, I spoke to a bank Senior VP today. He said he was happy to speak with me as it will get him out of another dull staff meeting designed to waste his time. Meetings, if done right will kill you.

Why are staff meeting so dull and boring? Below are some ways to liven up your staff meeting and revitalize the fun at work....

Start by looking beyond generic attempts to get a laugh and consider humor in the workplace for its ability to revitalize or change the culture of an organization.

If time  flies when your having fun- why not encourage levity to make the meeting more engaging?

Educate people about fun at work. Make sure people know the positive virtues of humor in the workplace (decreases stress, sparks inspiration, increases productivity and innovation, etc) to use it to effectively engage others.

Engage the Humorous Few- There is always people who have a natural ability to make people laugh and add humor in the workplace.

Natural humor “circles” arise; especially in the midst of stress. Use these natural forces to organically transcend the humor throughout. Encourage these off handed quips and humorous banter and funnel it to a greater good.

Humor can’t be rehearsed. It has to be spontaneous and unexpected, so canned humor or dry overused programs (that used to be fun) don’t tend to work. Savvy leadership continually encourage spontaneous upbeat behavior.

When i was a conference inspirational speaker someone gave me the suggestion in their staff meeting they once duck taped someone ( the person who couldn't keep his mouth shut) to a chair. They have gone as far as using whoopie cushions and other goofy pranks. These may be fun for awhile but will quickly lose steam in a professional environment. Also cheap humor gags are a bit of a diversion from any meetings true purpose.

From time to time add some levity to your meeting with your own goofy humor. (After i collect some more ideas- I will do a blog on more specific appropriate, objective oriented, non- prankish ways to add humor to a meeting) but for now, some funny prank style ways to inject fun at your next staff meeting:

  • Heckle the person speaking
  • Have a special guest inspirational speaker or a comedian.
  • Use props like beach balls, clown noses, large (unused) ladies underwear,balloons
  • Plan ice breakers.. easy, quick are best. See our blog.
  • Use humor to reinforce your points- Try this- whenever someone forgets to incorporate a certain word or concept you are focusing on-  than you throw foam darts at them. 
  • Set up miniature golf, bowling
  • Have someone deliver things to you in a box every 10 minutes. At the end of the meeting, distribute the boxes to people. Have fun things in them to bring home to their kids, family or dogs
  • Bring a really unusual item (a can of paint, windshield washer fluid, etc) and place it in the middle of the table. Don't reveal what it is for ( nothing but elicit curiosity)
  • Speak through a hand puppet
  • Empty medications from a pill bottle and fill it with candy. Place it prominently in front of you. Throughout the meeting, keep taking several pills at a time with water, until the bottle is done.
  • Ask people if they can change seats with you throughout the meeting, until you have done a round of musical chairs around the room.
If you are planning another long and boring staff meeting likely to annoy and frustrate others, consider these tips to engage and inspire your staff, instead. Meetings are often the best way to communicate and refocus energy and inspiration- but only if they are done right. 
Staff meetings are often misguided - a litany of bad things happening to good people. One by one, employees report on recent wrong-doings, bad news, to-do lists, safety updates, cutbacks or new red tape or government compliance regulations lurking at the back door.
Here are some ideas to enliven your well run staff meeting...
·         Report Good News!  Every meeting should start with some uplifting news: Targets reached, customer kudos, disasters averted or problems fixed. Help people remember the good things so that the challenging things reported later go down a bit smoother. Remember that most people are only noticed when they do something wrong. Meetings are an opportunity to enliven people with recognition, the very thing we crave most at work (Robert Half International, Recognition, the Key to Satisfaction report). 
·         Focus on Purpose. Start your meeting by reminding your staff about the contributions they make when they show up for work. Who are our customers? What value do we provide to them? What unites us all? People often get sidetracked as they focus on endless to-do lists, lists that seem only to grow and never get done. This is not some obscure mission building activity and it does not have to take a long time. It should be a quick, relevant and timely report of happenings, procedures or news that bind people to your organization’s purpose.You don't have to be a motivational speaker to give a motivational speech. Attendees Should be Relevant. Every meeting should have a purpose, an agenda and a specific group of people who need to attend. Don't invite people who don't need to be present.  Everyone invited should be expected to actively participate by presenting updates, ideas or progress. Leave time for Creativity. Challenge the routines and methods your department operates under by encouraging innovative thought. Expect people to think outside the box so work routines don't become stale and monotonous. Set time aside for employees to present ideas that could revolutionize their work. Make it mandatory for people to bring at least one idea (big or small) that will spark conversation on how you can alter routines and work flow to be more productive.  Recognize their creativity. Discuss Conflict. Conflict usually gets pushed under the carpet, where it festers while morale plunges. Meetings need to be a safe forum to discuss issues that arise when people don't see eye to eye. Unless conflict is resolved, it will take its toll on your staff’s morale. Ask for Help. Some people (maybe everyone) are literally swamped with work and the madness needs to stop or they will drop the ball. Create a segment of time where staff can report the most pressing issues and rally the group for some support.  Make it safe to ask for help from the team. Laugh at the Tough Stuff.This is not meant as a goofy activity or a time waster. The point is to laugh at your stress and release negative emotions which will create a more balanced perspective. Any motivational speech should have some humor to up it's impact.
Spend time planning good stuff, too. Lift people’s spirits by involving them in planning events that they can enthusiastically anticipate.

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