13 tips on how to use humor

friday, 4 april of 2008

13 tips on how to use humor

by Trey Ryder

If you want prospective clients to trust you and believe you, you must help them connect with you as a living, breathing human being. Humor is one of the most powerful ways to form a strong emotional bond with prospects. It is an essential tool in persuasive communication. Humor brings both you and your marketing message to life!

When to use humor

Whether in a seminar setting, or one-on-one with a prospect, here’s how to get the most mileage from jokes and funny stories.

Opening: A joke or funny story helps prospects shift their attention from whatever was going on before -- to where you want their attention: on you.

During: If your subject is heavy or technical, insert something funny every ten minutes or so. This helps prospects relax and take a short break from their heavy concentration.

Closing: You want prospects to leave with a pleasant, positive feeling -- and a smile on their face. Make sure you close with a great joke or story.

Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting that you always use humor. Depending on the type of law you practice, you might be talking with a prospect who has experienced a personal tragedy. So you be the judge. If you think humor might not be appropriate, then avoid it.

Tip #1: Humor is a serious subject. Don’t take it lightly.

Tip #2: Use self-effacing humor. You are always safe when you make yourself the butt of the joke. This helps you appear human to your prospect -- and you don’t risk offending him in any way.

Tip #3: Avoid intellectual humor unless you’re sure your prospect will understand it. It’s easy to tell a story that’s so high-brow that it goes over your prospect’s head. Instead, I like silly stories, which usually reach the lowest common denominator.

Tip #4: Make sure your prospect can relate to your story’s topic. If you want to meet your prospect eye to eye, your story must focus on something that is within your prospect’s knowledge or experience.

Tip #5: Use stories and jokes that relate directly to the topic of your presentation.

Tip #6: Make sure your story or joke is clear and to the point.

Tip #7: Check your story or joke against the AT&T principle: Is it appropriate? Is it tasteful? Is it timely?

Tip #8: Make sure the topic of your story doesn’t reflect on your knowledge or competence. We’re striving for unquestioned credibility, so don’t say anything that could undermine your prospect’s confidence in you.

Tip #9: Practice and perfect your joke or funny story. Look for ways to make the story appear spontaneous. Then connect it with the most important parts of your marketing message.

Tip #10: Focus on the story’s pace, intonation and pauses. Often, the silent pauses in stories are as funny as the punch lines.

Tip #11: Don’t repeat a story that fails. Don’t repeat a story that works.

Tip #12: Never use humor that is -- or might be perceived to be -- in bad taste. This includes anything relating to race, gender, religion, ethnic origin or disability. Make sure your jokes and stories are squeaky clean.

Tip #13: Remember, the safest jokes and stories are those that focus on you.

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© Trey Ryder

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