You're Funny. I'm Serious.

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We all know a person like this in the office -- that seriously funny guy or gal who has us in stitches every time they tell a story, whether it's about a mishap on the road while getting ready to meet a client or weird thing that happened over the weekend. This person brings your team together, intrigues clients and does it so effortlessly. You'd love to do the same, but you're not funny.

Well, you're funny, but it's hard when you're on the spot. People laugh at your jokes, sure, but it's difficult in those unexpected moments to share something authentic and connect. It can also be challenging when you know all eyes will be on you, giving a presentation for 50 of your nearest and dearest colleagues and clients, and how are you expected to present on quarterly goals and be hysterical simultaneously?! You're not a dancing monkey!

Fear not. No one expects you to be Chris Rock out of the gate. No one expects you to be Chris Rock, period. The key to finding your inner funny is to lean into your authentic self. You uniquely see the world and, because of that, you're already well equipped to be the best storyteller in the room. The next step, however, is to find your funny.

But I know, you want to increase your storytelling abilities today, and you're smart to do so. Storytelling is the ultimate marketing skill. If you can concisely educate your client about your product or service, and do so in an entertaining way, you're memorable. When people both remember and can't wait to interact with you, that's sales gold.

Authentic storytelling intrinsically builds empathy and trust. According to Inc., "Authenticity is attractive. While most people are inherently suspicious of brands, 80 percent of consumers say that authentic content can compel them to engage with a company. In a world increasingly filled with "fake news," "alternative facts," and a deluge of marketing messages, people yearn for what's real. As a brand, you have the opportunity to cut through the noise and reach audiences by telling an authentic story." How do you tell an authentic story? By not pretending to be Chris Rock, for starts.

As you find your funny, keep a notebook or post-it pad nearby. If something strikes you as odd, jot it down. Notice when people laugh at something you say in conversation. Don't "try" to be funny, see what people respond to naturally. You'll find people are chuckling more than you think.

Finally, after a week of gathering some particularly entertaining bon mots, try re-telling your story to someone who's both a good listener and a constructive critic. Ask them what part of the story did they find entertaining? Was there any part that wasn't clear? What was their favorite part? After you get your feedback, consider their comments and try it again.

Just like all aspects of business, no one lands their own Netflix comedy special right out of the gate (that is how the saying goes, right?). There is practice, nuance, tweaking, and re-working the stories you tell to engage your audience, just as you tweak aspects of your products or services. But as you authentically engage with others through storytelling, you'll find that you attract more clients, retain accounts, and connect with co-workers. That, and you're seriously funny.


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KT Speetzen