by Amelia Sherrill, account coordinator
It’s no secret that laughter can be the best medicine. It relaxes your muscles; boosts the immune system and improves resistance to disease; lowers stress hormones; eases anxiety; increases blood flow; and promotes relationship building and bonding. Harnessing the beneficial boost of a belly laugh also can help you connect with your clients, customers and colleagues.
Let’s start with a personal example. Have you ever read an article, whether for personal or professional reasons, only to discover later that you have no recollection of the author’s message? Personally, this happens to me quite often – the content is not presented in a way that resonates with me, so I end up reading an article without retaining the main points. However, incorporating humor into your writing can help you avoid this pitfall. It will catch your audience’s attention, keep them engaged and make your message memorable. When you share a good laugh with someone, you foster a connection. When you connect with readers through humorous writing, it can build relationships that set you apart from your competitors.
Even though humor is a powerful tool, you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to reap its benefits. Use the following five tips to keep your audience engaged and interested in the message you are sharing:
1. Be specific. Humor is usually grounded in real-life experiences. In order to bring your readers to a moment that made you chuckle, use detailed illustrations to paint the scene. Anne Binnis of www.writetodone.com gives the following example: “A story about squirrels would be funnier if it were about nine beady-eyed squirrels that stuck to the side of my deck in formation, reminding me of the time my little brother glued his G.I. Joe’s to the kitchen wall and declared war against all things legume.”
2. Mix funny and serious. According to a blog on The Daily Post, “there is nothing more freeing than talking about a heavy subject only to lighten the mood with some laughter… You have to gain readers’ trust, not alienate them… A big part of pulling it off is establishing with the reader that you don’t see yourself as above criticism. Being able and willing to mock yourself is important when you’re walking the line between levity and going too far.” Using humor creatively can ease the mood, but you must ensure that your content is professional and reflective of your brand.
3. Keep it short and sweet. The goal is to give your readers a laugh, but a smile can be just as effective, particularly for online content. Keep your online humor direct, sharp and sudden. Don’t overstay your welcome – you don’t want to be the guest that the hosts have to push out the door, you want to be the guest that leaves at just the right time, with just the right words. This leads us to the next tip:
4. Choose the Right Words. Effective humor is also about taking your audience where they do not expect to go. Choose the most fitting metaphors, similes and words to make your readers laugh without even knowing why. The thesaurus can be your best friend!
5. EDIT it! Your first draft is a solid foundation, but there is always room for improvement. Read it aloud to hear and correct the rhythm of your writing. If it isn’t entertaining you, what will it do to your audience? Make more edits, and then have someone read it silently. As they read, watch their facial expressions to judge if you are headed in the right direction. When you see their smirk turn into a snicker, you will know your audience will react in the same manner.
Laughter isn’t just a byproduct of fun and games. It serves as therapy to our bodies and minds and creates a bond between those we interact with. As a communication tool, humor will forge a relationship with your readers by getting them engaged. Ultimately, it will help you to stand out in a competitive market.