Humor at Meetings: Silly or Successful?

September 4, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Lots of managers (especially those in sales departments) use wacky performances or outrageous get-ups in an attempt to motivate their employees at big meetings or special events. But at least one writer says they often look more like buffoons than business leaders. “I don't encourage managers to wear funny hats, appear in self-deprecating skits, or otherwise emulate Saturday Night Live in an attempt to manufacture an image as, 'Look folks! I'm just one a' the guys,'” says John K. Mackenzie, a New York-based writer who comes up with concepts and writes scripts for meetings and events. In an article on Mackenzie's “The Writing Works” Web site, he argues that a field sales force may see top management only once or twice a year, and salespeople (and other types of employees) need to see their leaders' vision for the future--not their take at slapstick.

“Confident managers are secure enough to bypass situations that often succeed in converting respect to ridicule,” Mackenzie writes. “It's usually the uncertain manager who clutches at these moments in an attempt to create a public charisma that personal performance has never provided.”

What do you think? Have you used humorous techniques--successfully or not--at a meeting or event? Let us know: Email Executive Editor Chad Kaydo at

To find ideas for a motivational event--funny or otherwise--check out our 50 Fall Event Ideas package, including resources for fun activities, motivating speakers and great venues for a fall event.

Posted 09.04.01

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