According to a study reported in the “Journal of Business Communications,” group laughter appears to be a resource that can be used to improve performance and, through this, the achievement of the goals of an organization. Obviously, improving performance and achieving goals is important to a human resource professional who plans meeting, as well as to an event or meeting planner. It’s also important to those who conduct web conferences or virtual meetings. Therefore, when planning your next event for executives, sales people, employees or customers, here are just four benefits to keep in mind with regard to incorporating laughter and fun at your meeting.
Laughter is like yawning – it’s contagious. And most meeting planners or human resource professionals would rather hear a roomful of laughter than see a roomful of people yawning. How many times at a web conference do you see attendees turn away from the “action” and start texting on their phone? Laughter brings people together. It allows them to drop their “guard” at a meeting and become “one” with the group. Furthermore, during coffee breaks or networking functions, attendees have a tendency to share what they thought was funny or humorous with each other. This greatly helps those who are not “outgoing” to strike up conversations with others, which fosters communication and teamwork.
Dr. William Fry, professor emeritus at Stanford University School of Medicine, stated “Laughter aids memory and increases alertness and concentration.” Studies reveal that you can’t think and laugh at the same time. Therefore, laugher acts as a “mental wash,” allowing the brain to take a break. This break then provides the mind with an opportunity to absorb more information. Plus, when you laugh, you remove carbon dioxide from your system at an increased rate and replace it with an increased amount of oxygen, which stimulates not only the brain, but also the whole body. Therefore, you are more alert and can concentrate more efficiently.
Aid in Stress Reduction:
A study at Stanford University showed that laughter stimulates the “feel good” chemical in your blood, which lessens the feelings of stress and makes you “feel happy.” These same chemicals also increase your immune system.
During a web conference, I usually am there to add some humor and fun to the meeting. However, at the vast majority of events at which I am hired to speak, in addition to providing laughter and fun, I also deliver content. One area on which I am most frequently asked to provide information is diminishing stress. The two areas that deliver the most stress are people being asked to do more with less and having to deal with change in the workplace. (These changes may stem from acquisitions, new products or procedures, government restrictions, heightened sales projections, increased competition, etc.) In both cases, the result is unhappiness and stress. Since most meetings focus on the announcement of future expectations from the group, as well as changes that will occur in the workplace — a little bit of humor can make dealing with that information a little easier. As Mary Poppins once said, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!”
Most human resource professionals would agree that stress is a major concern. Numerous reports not only state that stress related illnesses cost employers approximately $300 billion a year, but also affirm that unless these issues are addressed, the costs will continue to go up. Stress attacks your immune system, which causes a variety of illnesses.
In fact, a 20-year study conducted by the University of London stated that unmanaged reactions to stress were a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than either cigarette smoking or high cholesterol foods. Therefore, to cut costs, it behooves corporations to be pro-active in reducing stress. Taking this into account during meetings and events is a step in the right direction.
Overall Satisfaction and Productivity:
When your group is having fun, not only is the overall satisfaction of your meeting or web conference increased, but so is participation, which means productivity. After all, if a meeting is just one speaker and power point after another, how much satisfaction or participation from your group would you expect?
Psychologist Maren Rawlings from Swinburne University in Australia conducted an amazing study on humor in the workplace and found a direct link between the climate of good humor in the workplace and employee satisfaction. Rawlings noted, “If employers take measures to encourage a positive humor climate in the workplace, they are more likely to retain their staff.”
Why will the staff be retained? Because they are having fun! Happy employees are productive employees. This finding can easily be translated to meetings, as a happy audience means increased overall satisfaction, which means heightened attention, participation, and, therefore, productivity.
As you can see, there are a few good reasons why providing laughter at your meeting is beneficial. An easy way to obtain these benefits is by engaging a funny motivational speaker for your event. If you would like to see how I have been helping companies worldwide offer this to their groups, visit my funny motivational speaker site.
©2012 Bob Garner. All Rights Reserved. You may use this article, but you must use the byline and author resource.