Thursday, June 12, 2014

Humor can benefit association board culture

Left: note the passenger ignoring the briefing?
Right: screen capture from Delta's safety video.
As anyone who has ever flown knows, the typical airline safety briefing (including how to buckle your seat belt) is pretty boring. Most passengers ignore it. And the flight attendants go through the motions with a look of “why bother, no one is paying attention.”

Several years ago, Southwest empowered its flight attendants to modify the announcements and many injected humor during the briefings. Passengers giggled. But, they paid attention.

I was flying on Delta the other day. This is the third or fourth time I’ve been on Delta since they introduced humorous video safety briefings.

While I watched the briefing (to see what new humor was added), I noticed passengers were watching and laughing at the funny parts of the video briefing. And, nearly all of us were paying attention.

The bottom line: humor helps increase audience attention.


And, humor – whether in board meetings or during convention sessions – can benefit associations too.

Note: worn-out jokes are not humor ... they are worn-out jokes ... avoid them!

When I worked at a large national association with a very large (40+) board of directors, I noticed a culture where some board members interjected humorous stories (often about themselves) during sometimes heated board discussions. The stories seemed to help “settle” the board. The stories helped the association accomplish its business.

When my former AMC managed the National Christmas Tree Association, we incorporated “skits” as tools to provide board reports at the annual meeting. They included humor. They succeeded in keeping the audience engagement and aware.

Association CEOs have often told me they have trouble getting boards to pay attention to important stuff (similar to airline safety briefings?) Perhaps the problem stems not from bored board members but from boring presentations? Perhaps we could find appropriate times to interject some humor into our meetings and presentations.

What do you think?

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