I once again experienced this phenomenon yesterday. Along with Peppercomm's Chief Comedy Officer (and professional comedian) Clayton Fletcher, I led a three-hour stand-up comedy workshop for executives of America's top pharmaceutical companies.
You might be thinking: What do comedy and marketing drugs for deadly diseases possibly have in common? Having trained lawyers, rocket scientists, oncologists and just about every other serious occupation one can imagine (except tinker, tailor, soldier and spy), I can report that each profession shares the same fundamental needs:
- To communicate and CONNECT with target audiences in new and unexpected ways.
- To differentiate themselves from competitors.
- To bond in new and meaningful ways with their peers (having grown weary of trying everything from Kaisan to Covey).
The pharma executives yesterday greeted us the way every client group does: with arms folded, daggers in their eyes and texting away on other, more important matters.
And, when we left a few hours later, those very same executives gave us multiple rounds of applause, told us they'd learned new and valuable techniques to bring back to their jobs and, critically, bonded as a group in a way they'd never expected.
This end result happens time and time again. We train executives to stand in front of their peers and share authentic stories. We may ask them to slightly exaggerate the tales in order to elicit some laughs, but I can honestly tell you EVERY single, serious business executive tells hilarious stories in their three or four-minutes 'on stage'.
The executives also learn the subtle ways in which comedy techniques can free them from PowerPoint slides, help them build better audience rapport and, critically, close a sale (however one defines the word sale).
I apologize for making a hard sell on a soft sell solution for Corporate America, but someone needs to make the point: comedy is a HUGE differentiator that smart communicators and human resource managers will eventually stumble upon on their own. I'm just trying to give them a wake-up call.
Comedy can, and will, transform your people, your culture and your bottom line. So, tell me, what's it going to take to get you on the phone, call me and say, “Steve, I need Peppercomm's Comedy Experience Featuring Clayton Fletcher?”
Hey, if you do, I'll tell you what I'm willing to do. I'll toss in a free set of radial tires, undercarriage rust protection and leather seats as well. Just don't tell my manager.