If you have gotten through most of your adult life and have never had to sit through a board meeting then…well…I’m jealous. Most of us have had to endure hours of useless (in our eyes) analysis, stabs at encouragement that made us roll our eyes, and a sense that we could be much more productive if we could just get out of that room. One of the main reasons meetings aren’t effective is because they are more focused on getting data across to the staff; it is more about talking to a group rather than with a group. To try to cut down on time, there is usually one main speaker who focuses on spewing out information and hoping most of it sticks. There has been little to no effort, from management, to make the meetings…well….fun!

Okay, now coming from a comedian you must be thinking, “Sure Stephanie, you might think life is all fun but there is work that needs to happen, fun just doesn’t get things done”. Or does it? A recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology explained that funny meetings might be more productive ones. Oh, now I have your attention! The study was able to determine the flow of interactions within real team meetings and they found that moments after the laughter died down from a joke, teams were more likely to engage in productive, open behaviors, such as proposing new ideas, asking questions, or offering praise or encouraging participation by others. These behaviors appear to contribute to longer-term performance, according to ratings given by team supervisors post-meeting and two years on. The higher the number of “humour plus laughter” incidents (but not humour or laughter alone), the better these ratings tended to be. The repeated importance of humour in tandem with laughter suggest that it’s not purely elevated mood or a quality of wannabe jokers, but a more dynamic give and take between team members that makes the difference.

So, this won’t work unless the people like each other and feel like they can take part in the humour – businesses that play together tend to stay together. Ever see how companies like Pixar operate? They have hallway races, a 24 hour free cereal bar, and endless self improvement classes for staff including…wait for it….”Improv for shy people” on Wednesdays (I’m beaming right now)! They create an atmosphere of fun, creativity, and that’s what they produce; just look at their wall of Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globe awards. Not too shabby for people who play while they work. A great inspiration for all business owners out there!

About the Author

Stephanie Herrera is a comedian, writer, producer, teacher, singer, actor, mother of 4, and shallow philosopher. She runs the Durham Improv & Acting Studio in Oshawa, Canada, is a professor at Durham and Fleming Colleges, and is an award winning performer.  www.durhamimprov.com / www.stephanieherrera.com / info@durhamimprov.com / (647) 899-3342  Durham Improv Group and Business pages can be found on Facebook and follow @durhamimprov & @antimommy