7 Habits of Highly Funny Project Managers

By Jeff Justice, CSP

Why are there people who are funnier than the rest of us? What makes them different?  Oh sure, some people are just born funny.  Some just have a natural way of saying things that’s funny. Some may look funny while others talk funny.

Funny Project ManagerAfter twenty plus years of teaching normal business people how to be funny(ier) I’ve concluded that the “Highly Funny People (Project Managers included)” all share the same habits, which are learnable by anyone,…even you.

They have the ability and are willing to laugh at themselves. Their stories show how they failed but coped with it through laughter.  They teach others by laughing at their own mistakes.

When they say something that is meant to be funny they pause to let audience laugh and they don’t start talking until the audience has finished. I’ve watched many speakers train an audience to laugh in shorter and shorter bursts by talking after their punch lines and cutting the audience off.  The audience will stop laughing to hear what you have to say.  The reason these people start talking after their punch line is they are afraid of hearing dead silence so they fill that space with their own voice.

They don’t stretch out a story or joke. The longer you make a story the funnier the punch line has to be to get a good laugh.  George Burns put it best when asked how to craft a good joke.  He said, “Make the beginning quick, the end quick and put the two of them as close together as possible.”

They never use racist, religious, ethnic, political or blue humor (cuss words). Highly funny people don’t take a chance at offending their audience to get a laugh.  The best advice is, “When in doubt, leave it out.” Now one has ever been reprimanded at a business meeting for being too clean.

They never announce that they’re about to tell a joke or funny story. If you announce that you’re about to say something funny it takes away the surprise and sets a level of expectation that your humor can’t possibly reach. Always make your humor an unexpected surprise for your audience.

They only use humor to make a point. Never tell a joke in a business presentation just to get a laugh.  Only use humor to make a point.  This way if they don’t laugh it still makes your point.  The exception to this is “natural humor” which is unplanned, in the moment humor that comes from what’s happening in the room at that time.

They get professional help. You may be naturally funny or slightly humorous but anyone can be better.  People will spend a small fortune on golf lessons to improve their game by a few strokes but won’t spend a dime improving their delivery, which could make them a more effective communicator, bring them promotions and more dollars in their pocket.  Highly funny people get help no matter how good they are.

Sign up for a stand-up comedy class, improv class or work with a presentation skills coach and soon you too will be a “Highly Funny Project Manager!”

If you found these tips from Jeff Justice, CSP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.

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3 Responses to “7 Habits of Highly Funny Project Managers”

  1. Tanmay says:

    Nice reading and very true too!!.. Wit and Humor are very effective tools. They make it easy to attract audience attention and enhance communication. However, I feel, most of it is inherent skill which can be further developed but training from scratch may not be possible.. While good humor can be very entertaining and effective, a bad humor can be a disaster!!

  2. Mark D says:

    I used to be a funny PM, but stopped. I was concerned people wern’t taking me as seriously. I find myself, joking, laughing and smiling less. Try to appear serious all the time. I think it gives me more credibility. There is a woman I work with who is a fabulous technician, but she giggles too much (nervous habit) and I really feel it hurts her, even though technically she is very sharp.

  3. Rana T says:

    I think that there is a time and a place for humor, but can be a powerful tool in creating a cohesive team. Giggling is one thing, but humor to pull together a client team and internal team during a difficult discussion is another. Constructive and thoughtfully used, humor is a great tool.

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