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Are you having a laugh?


BIG SMILE!We all know that laughter makes us feel better - but can it help us learn more too? Joe Hoare says that laughter is an infectious energiser, and helps to make speeches and presentations 'stick'.

"There's no learning without laughter from the classroom" said Aristotle. Like any generalisation, this statement has holes in it and at the same time is worth considering.

In Dawn Smith's excellent article: Make 'em Laugh: Using Humour in Training she makes the point that some research indicates that it’s the repetition rather than the humour that helps the information stick.

Photo of JOE HOARE"Sessions that energise people provide an additional benefit that energised people tend to energise others, they create a knock-on effect and a feel-good one too"

For many of us, this poses the question: how do clients want their repetition, dry and boring or spontaneous and exciting? Sessions that energise people provide an additional benefit that energised people tend to energise others, they create a knock-on effect and a feel-good one too. I expect we've all noticed this effect? Greater engagement at work? Consequently these are important subsidiary benefits that influence choices about who will be commissioned to provide a presentation, training or other intervention.

Assuming we want to explore the spontaneous and exciting route, what can we do? Take a risk, make your sessions interactive. This is almost so old hat it shouldn't need saying, but you might be surprised how relevant it still is. Even with your oldest, truest, most reliable material, always look for ways to keep it fresh. Even when it is material you’ve used hundreds of times before, always look for improvements in putting it across.

Don't know how? One of the secrets is spontaneity. For your part, in terms of delivering the material, have a look around and see what's hot, what's in the news, what's the latest quirky happening in Reuters or Private Eye? How can you tie this into your material? What is the freshest set of clothes you can give it? How can you relate it to something that's in today's paper or current news?

With your delegates, look for spontaneous feedback all the time, embrace it, incorporate it. They are providing you with material all the time – a glance here, a pause, a hesitation, a gesture. Subconsciously you're taking in many more signals than your conscious brain can assimilate. However, you can be on the lookout for these signals and respond to them consciously and intuitively. Take a risk, engage playfully and encouragingly and this sense of engagement grows in front of your eyes. We've all seen it happen.

Think Kenny Everett. Think John Cleese. Learn to follow your own intuition and take a risk. Excitingly, think yourself. And remember to smile, genuinely, lots and often!

Joe Hoare is a laughter facilitator and runs sessions for organisations that want to boost performance, creativity and team harmony. He runs a Laughter Facilitation training course. For more information go to He can be contacted via [email protected]


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