Lighten Up!

By Heather Baldwin

To slightly modify an old saying, the family of sales reps that laughs together, learns together. When you want to drive home a point, create a memorable training session or simply energize your team so they’ll devote 100% to your meeting, try using humor to get their attention. Kevin Ryan, a professional speaker, certified trainer and founder of Ryan+Associates Australia (www.ryan.webcentral.com.au), offers these ideas for putting fun into your next meeting.

1. Fun beginnings. Put opening humor down as the first agenda item. Appoint a different person to start each meeting with a joke, a funny story, or a quick game – whatever they can think of to lighten the mood. Give them a time limit, but that’s all.

2. Fun in the middle. Hand out noisemakers (horns, whistles, clickers, etc.) to all attendees and let them know they have to use their noisemaker before they speak. Take votes by saying: All in favor, make your noise.” Have something silly that participants need to hold or place in front of them before they speak. Not only will everyone laugh, it’s a great way to ensure that only one person speaks at a time.

3. Fun endings. Appoint a person to end the meeting with humor. One way is to have participants nominate meeting members for frivolous awards based on what happened during the meeting. Some examples: Silliest statement, wittiest comment, best excuse, most imaginative statement, best/worst jargon. When you finish your meetings with humor, attendees will remember they had fun and thus will be more willing and motivated to attend the next one.

4. And the winner is…. It can be fun to take the idea of awards one step further with a cash prize for the silliest mistake made in the past 30 days. To make the awards more effective and less embarrassing, require that reps can only nominate themselves. They have to stand up and tell their team members what they did and how they would spend the money if they won. Then everyone votes on a winner. The prize should go to either the rep who made the biggest mistake or the one who would spend the prize money in the most creative way.