I’m not talking about actors and actresses who act for a living. I’m talking about everyone else. Acting can help you be better in your job, no matter what that job is. Acting helps you feel comfortable in front of other people, helps you negotiate, and helps you to sell your big idea. This applies to everyone: marketers, teachers, sales people, business people, athletes, police officers, lawyers. Any job that has to deal with other people can benefit from acting classes.
Here’s why I’ve reached this dramatic (ha!) conclusion. First, a story about my daughter, Julie. Julie did no acting in high school, but when she started college, stumbled into a couple of improv troupes. She was successful and funny. Improv is incredibly difficult. You have to be smart and have the ability to think on your feet. You have to learn how to work in a team, support your team and add to your team’s efforts (“yes and” is a mantra). Learning improv can make you more confident, a better public speaker, help you adapt, think on the spot and feel in control of every situation. Name one job where those skills wouldn’t be helpful!
Now Julie has an internship with the Kane County Cougars, a minor league team for the Cubs. Her ultimate goal is to become the Commissioner of Baseball. Last week after work, the Interns were matched against the Full-time Staff for a softball game. Julie was the manager for the Interns. It was all in the spirit of fun of course. After a controversial call against the Interns, Julie stormed the field, yelled a blue streak, threw her baseball cap down and was thrown out of the game by the ump. It was exactly what she wanted to have happen. Her team cheered and gave her a standing ovation. It charged them up. It was great acting…and they even let her come back! How many times have you watched a baseball game and seen the ball player ‘sell’ his tag, or the runner ‘sell’ beating the tag. In basketball and football too, the players often have to act to ‘sell’ the ref on the foul.
Think about the last time you were put in an awkward situation, or had to sell an idea. Acting skills would have been so useful! Earlier this summer, I was asked by the University of Illinois Engineering Department to present a teaching award to a professor. I had done this a few years ago, in a small room, with maybe 50 people. I was happy to be able to do it again. When I arrived, I realized that they had changed the format from a private ceremony to inclusion in the convocation. Rather than 50 professors, I was marched on stage with the department, and as a part of graduation, delivered my speech to 8,000+ people. I had to dig deep to remember those acting classes from high school so that I could wing a speech that was originally written for a handful of professors. Acting skills helped.
I have some presentations coming up in the next few months, and you better believe that I am dusting off those acting skills to engage my audience while speaking clearly and projecting my voice.
Does humor have a place in your content marketing?
Earlier this week I participated in a content marketing tweet chat (#cmworld). There were some questions asked about using humor in your content: is it appropriate, what if your brand personality doesn’t lend itself to humor, what if you aren’t funny?
There’s value in not taking yourself too seriously. Brands use humor to make their ads memorable. According to a study by Millward Brown last year, funnier ads are much more memorable than those without humor. They found that humorous ads scored in the 74th percentile on average for involvement, while those without were only in the 42nd percentile. Humor can translate globally as long as it’s not offensive and has a universal interpretation (think puppies and babies). Nielson did a study (Global Survey of Trust in Advertising) and found that 47% of global Internet respondents (Q=29,000) said that humorous ads resonated most with them.
And that got me to thinking about brands I’ve seen who’ve used humor well.
The CIA, certainly not known for its sense of humor, published its first tweet last week. Almost everyone found it humorous and at almost 300,000 retweets as of this writing, it was certainly popular. And it got folks talking about the CIA in a positive way.
Until last year I never thought of Kmart as having a sense of humor. But then they created a couple of hilarious commercials that were a little off color, but in a somehow acceptable way. My impression of Kmart has been forever changed. The first, Ship my Pants had over 30 million views on YouTube. They followed up with another, almost as funny bit called Big Gas Saving.
Ana Gasteyer of Saturday Night Live fame wrote such funny tweets about Weight Watchers that they asked her to be a spokesperson. She had written tweets such as: “Hey @weighwatchers, How many Activity points for sweatily trying to get out of a Spanx undershirt?” and “Hey @WeightWatchers how many #activitypoints for re-threading string thru the waistband of my gym shorts? Came out in dryer so can’t workout.”
While I’ve found a lot of humorous content in consumer brands, I also found an article in Forbes last December, written by Ekaterina Walter that identifies 3 great B2B examples of effective use of humor by Cisco, Kinaxis (supply chain management) and Epuron (clean energy). You can see those here.
The real key to using humor is to know your audience and know when not to use humor. (Customer Service for instance is probably not a good place to use humor.) If you know your brand’s personality and can use humor in a positive way, I say give it a try.
What are your favorite examples?
*Note: I cannot find the author of this joke to give credit where credit is due.