The best team-building exercise known to man

been through all the typical team-building exercises on the market, dating back
to the prototypical Stephen Covey stuff of the early 1990s. Some of it works.
Some is a mere band-aid (think: Kaisan).

May 24
it or not, stand-up comedy is the real deal. I saw its potent, team-building
effect once again this weekend at the PRSA Counselors Academy's Spring

Clayton Fletcher, led the workshop and had
his work cut out. His session was scheduled for 8am on Sunday morning (and,
counselors, if nothing else, love to party). So, the group was subdued,
skeptical and, in some cases, a tad out of sorts from the previous night's
extra-curricular activities. 

group of 100 or so PR executives shuffled into Asheville's Grove Park Inn's
main banquet room, stuffed their mouths with breakfast and listened as Clayton
explained why comedy is a powerful tool that dramatically enriches a PR firm's workplace culture
and how it makes all the difference in the world in prospect and client
meetings. The silence was deafening

laying the groundwork, Clayton then asked for a few volunteers to 'perform' a
few minutes of their own material. I held my breath. Then, Janet Tyler of
Airfoil raised her hand, strode to the stage and absolutely killed (as we
comedians like to say). With the ice having been broken, one after another senior
executive dashed to the front of the room to perform. And the audience just
loved it. They pulled really hard for one another, loved 'learning' new things
about the their peers and finally 'got' the connection between comedy and
establishing rapport with an audience and fostering team building within a
group. It was a true Anne Sullivan/Helen Keller 'ah ha' moment.

the hour-long session concluded, the crowd roared its approval, rushed the
podium to ask Clayton if he could run a similar session for their firms and
congratulated one another for their hysterical bits.

was beyond happy. I know the power of comedy in business and have made sure
most Peppercom employees have not only been trained, but that some have
actually performed professionally on stage. And, I know it's helped our
workplace culture.

my proselytizing, however, I've been met with blank stares when I speak about
comedy to other agency owners. Big firms won't do it, believing their in-house
'camps' or 'universities' provide all the presentation skills and team building
necessary. And, smaller firms see it as a cost item they simply can't afford in
this economy.

truth is, stand-up comedy training is a highly-effective, seldom-used training
tool that will pay dividends for years to come. But, I'm fine with other firms
not embracing it. Because, all things being equal, when a prospective client or
employee has to decide a firm with whom to partner, she'll choose the group
that made her smile. And, I'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

9 thoughts on “The best team-building exercise known to man

  1. Nice, Abbie. That was my reaction the first time Clayton ran a stand-up comedy workshop for us. What he said seemed to be such an obvious extension to PR that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. Comedy is a secret weapon when applied to PR. And, Clayton’s the guy who can show us how to use it.

  2. funny funny funny. Driving home on Sunday, Dana, Lisa and I kept saying “we could use that in our routine” and “that’s pretty funny, say that next time.” Can’t wait for the next new biz presentation to try out some of the tips.

  3. Thanks Eric. You’re very kind. Clayton’s the star. I merely facilitate.

  4. Steve — once again, you have pushed the bar higher for all of us “agency” types. Kudos for your persistence, and for helping connect us to Clayton. I get it now.
    You are right…the connections and skills create more confident presenters who concurrently enhance their affability.
    I know you will continue to compete and win in the toughest market on the planet. Thanks to you and Clayton!

  5. I had a great time in Asheville. I was truly impressed with the talent among those executives. There are plenty of really funny folks in the PR world! Thanks for the kind words, RepMan. Means a lot to me 🙂

  6. keep us North East folks apprised of your own schedule, Rep. I really want to make one…even if there happens to be a two drink minimum. (That’s nothing!)

  7. Thanks Linda. I think the key to the surprisingly large Sunday morning turnout was an impromptu stand-up comedy performance on Saturday night. The group was able to see Clayton ‘in action’ before they ever walked (or, in some cases, staggered) into the banquet room.

  8. Wish I could have attended the Counselor’s Academy this year. The session sounds spectacular. I also believe the training is invaluable. If you can think on your feet like that, you can handle anything a client throws your way. Kudos to you for getting up at that ungodly hour!