My favorite joke goes like this:
Did you hear about the corduroy pillow? It’s making headlines.
Sure, the ol’ corduroy pillow is corny and generates more eye rolls than laughs, but that little joke has actually helped me connect with others. Whether I’m trying to lighten the mood or deepen audience engagement, humor is one of my go-to communication tools.
And, making others laugh brings significant health benefits, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter helps:
- Relieve stress by circulating fresh air through your body and releasing more endorphins
- Increase your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a positive and healthy sensation in your body
- Boost your immune system, thanks to neuropeptides releasing in response to optimistic thinking
Clearly, laughter has a positive effect on our lives. But, what about in our professional content?
Using humor to reach your company’s audiences has a number of benefits. Along with making them feel good, laughter will trigger dopamine that helps strengthen memory and boost their ability to process information. So, if you make ‘em laugh, they’ll remember you.
Even if you weren’t voted class clown, you can keep your communications fresh and conversational by weaving in some humor. Here are three quick tips to help you introduce humor into your professional content:
1. Embrace the Rule of 3
Timing is crucial when trying to make someone laugh. Using the Rule of 3 is an easy way to begin to recognize the rhythms and beats in humor. With this set up, comics and humorists will use the third item in a list to surprise and entertain their audience. You can do it, too. Start by finding two expected or normal moments in your content and follow them with an absurdity. For example:
“Planning for your retirement can help you establish your legacy, care for your loved ones, and finance a fleet of self-driving golf carts.”
2. Watch Where You’re Punching
Sometimes, people rely only on making fun of other people to be funny. In comedy, when you use someone with less power than you as the butt of the joke, we call it punching down. This path is dangerous, however — especially in professional content — because you risk coming off as a bully.
Instead of using others to get a laugh, try turning the humor on yourself. Self-deprecating jokes can build empathy and create a closer bond with your audience:
“In today’s meeting, we’ll discuss our Q4 returns (and I’ll try to contain my extreme geekiness).”
3. Stay Subtle
Unless you run a clown supply store, you’ll want to keep your humor dialed in. Remember, your goal is to communicate clearly and confidently. Goofing around too much in your content can blur you message and confuse your audience. Instead, place your jokes sparingly throughout your content and focus on the small, mundane details that everyone can connect with:
“At the Fresh Water Advocacy Group, we protect rivers, lakes, and your Labor Day vacation.”
You don’t have to be Bill Murray or Amy Poehler to pump humor into your messaging. By finding little opportunities to infuse funny moments into your content, you’ll keep your audiences entertained — and engaged. Making people laugh will help foster a genuine conversation with our readers and keep them coming back for more.