Laugh a Little!
Humor is powerful. But the humor you enjoy in your favorite TV shows and YouTube videos or that book you're laughing out loud at is just a hint of the impact humor can have.
Humor's value goes far beyond entertaining to help people deal with pain, stress and other challenges. Clown Care, Big Apple Circus' community outreach program, is a classic example. The program brings the delight of classical circus to hospitalized children at 16 leading pediatric facilities across the U.S.
There's more. Humor is also the WD-40 of relationships, soothing the bite of criticism and sparking connections among people from different backgrounds and points of view. Laughter can transcend age, race, gender, belief or class barriers.
When it's done right, that is.
A classic 1993 Journal of Marketing study on the impact of humor worldwide found that humorous messages are "more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness."
But humor works only when it's:
- A strong match with your objective and call to action
- Relevant to your objective, and
- Seen as appropriate.
You know how challenging it is to integrate humor into messages focused on issues and causes. We see a lot more of it in consumer marketing, where the issue covered isn't so serious or meaningful.
When we take ourselves too seriously, an occupational hazard for nonprofit staffers, we're unlikely to weave humor into our messages. And it can be hard to get the OK to use humor, especially when it deviates significantly from your organization's usual tone or it's the first time.
It's tough but worth the effort. The folks in your network are humans, too, and enjoy a good laugh just like you do. And, just as when you share a laugh with a colleague or friend, that grin or guffaw can draw the two of you closer together, enriching your relationship.