Recently, I was asked to present what they call in the business world, as the “Great Impostor” routine, to a very large corporation. Simply put, it is when you go into a corporate setting pretending to be one of the high level executives, outside specialists, or leaders in their field when in fact, you really are not. You are an impostor. The only ones in on it, are you and the person who hired you. The audience is clueless.
You get up in front of the chosen group of employees and do a lot of double talk, use company jargon and poke fun at the bosses. Eventually the whole room catches on that you are a fake. Well, hopefully the whole room there’s always one in every crowd that will still sit there baffled as to what just happened. These of course are the same people that think the English Channel is a cable station.
The purpose of the put-on is to relieve stress through humor in an otherwise serious work environment. The “presentation” usually will come midpoint in a four-day grueling training seminar, or anywhere in a one day seminar to break up the day.
I had done one of these “Great Impostor” routines for the same company just a few short months before and the response, without patting myself on the back (it is hard to reach), was very favorable. I took an otherwise stern group of seasoned salesmen and made them laugh and loosen up about their training. They were able to finish their training week with a renewed freshness.
This meeting was to prove the same. Except it never happened. The night before I was supposed to fly to Chicago to present this comic relief, I received a frantic call from the director, telling me that the salespeople were all upset and about to walk out on the training. He said “They are too tense to laugh.” I tried to explain, that that is the perfect time to bring in a dose of humor, to lighten up the air, diffuse the situation and release tension.
The director said he was responding to orders and that we’d just have to do it another time. I sat back and thought about how absurd the whole situation was. Everyone was a bundle of nerves, and they didn’t want to bring something in to relieve it. The kettle was steaming and there was no release valve.
Humor is medicine. Humor relieves stress. Humor is like changing a dirty diaper, it doesn’t permanently solve the problem, but it sure as hell makes it more tolerable for a while. I decided that it was time that corporate America lighten up, before we all have a massive stroke.
I am a doctor of comedy, or in layman’s terms a stand up comic. I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life performing to all different types of audiences. From top level executives to a group of nuns at a Catholic high school. Guess which was better! There needs to be a large dose of humor brought into the corporate world. Education and Entertainment can join forces and become Educainment. There is no rule that says learning has to be serious. In fact people learn better and retain more in a relaxed environment.
The Japanese take an exercise break in the middle of the work day to work out tension in the muscles. Humor is a massage for the brain. It will revive a tired mind, and pump more oxygen into the system. In the best case it will make you more productive, in the worst case, you’ll have a bad joke to take home to your friends.
Either way, every week I will give you step by step insights, on how to add humor into your business speaking by putting your funny side up. Whether you are a teacher, meeting planner, facilitator, public speaker or corporate executive…humor works and you don’t have to be a comic to do it.
There is no topic that is too serious for humor – even death. You can be solemn, but you don’t have to be serious. Humor does not detract from your presentations, it only enhances it, get your message across in a more memorable way and makes you a more desirable speaker. By using humor in your speeches and everyday life you put yourself in a win-win situation. And that is the only situation we want to be in.
Till next time….Be yourself and have a good time.