Last week we trained at Church & Dwight in Red Bank, New Jersey. C&D is a major manufacturing firm of household products, and the attendees were IT Managers. They had fun with the training, engaged in the exercises, and supported one other with wit and humor. As a result, they learned quickly.
We’ve always believed that wit is a sign of intelligence, so we took a deeper dive. Many studies support our contention, but with a caveat; it depends on what type of humor you use. Jokes and sarcasm are to be avoided. However, observational and self-deprecating humor humanizes and connects the speaker to the audience by inviting them in.
To develop this muscle, take an improv or acting class. Consider unexpected associations, utilizing similes or metaphors. Watch well-written sitcoms. Employ irony. Poke fun at yourself but not others. Just make sure your tone is warm and welcoming.