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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 27, 2013

Using Stand-up Comedy to Bond and Teach

We know that human beings love to laugh. Leaders know the value of humor to diffuse a stressful situation or to break the ice, when the pressure is on. That is one reason that more and more C-Level executives are embracing the value of going beyond the occasional humorous remark and learning stand-up comedy.

Recently, we interviewed Judy Carter, author of "The Comedy Bible" and the brand new book: "The Message of You: Turn your Life's Story into a Money-Making Speaking Career". Carter had just returned from Russia, she has also taught in Brazil and China, as well as other countries. "The basics of humor are universal," Carter said.

She also sees an uptick in the number of FortuneĻ 500 Companies hiring comics. One of her recent engagements in the United States included creating a team-building event for the worldwide management staff of a semiconductor company.

There are some of the benefits for leaders:
1. Participants learn how to practice light-hearted self-mocking. When we find out what people are saying about us and make light of our own foibles, we take back our power.

2. Learning how to handle hecklers as stand-up comics, translates into valuable communications skills; they know how to handle difficult people with grace.

3. Writing jokes together is a creative and bonding experience. "Nobody writes comedy alone," states Carter; we all need others to help us determine what's really funny.

4. People learn it's OK to take risks---to do things that scare them.

5. Finally, participants learn how to effectively communicate difficult issues in a way that people will hear it.

When you're able to make people laugh throughout your presentation, people stay alert, it makes you more likeable and it also makes the content more memorable. Carter is teaching leaders valuable skills that will last a lifetime. She is "on a mission to bring humor back to the workplace".

The Millennials and Gen Xers now make up more than half of our workforce. In the future, they will demand that training and development is not only effective, but also fun. Teaching stand-up comedy is just one example of the innovative training we may expect to see.

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