Avoid Humor (Unless You’re Conan O’Brien)

Humor is a tricky business. I was reminded of this fact yesterday when told about a seminar participant who offered a joke in a room full of business people. The joke teller attempted to use a humorous story to illustrate a point made by the seminar leader. But no one got it. The room fell silent.

“It’s a joke.”

Awkward laughter followed. (The same person told another joke later that drew a similar response. Sheesh.)

Avoid humor in business, marketing and development communications—unless you’re Conan O’Brien. In other words, be certain your stuff and its format are truly funny. Humor done well looks easy.  But it’s not.

Lastly, even if you are Conan,  make sure humor is appropriate for the situation and audience. Otherwise, you may have to follow up with, “It’s a joke.” And that’s not funny at all.

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