If You Are Not Having a Good Time, What’s the Point?
Fun Is Good: How to Create Joy & Passion
in Your Workplace & Career
By Mike Veeck & Pete Williams
Rodale; 240 pages with index; $23.95
Are you passionate about your speaking topic? Is presenting on the platform a fun experience for you?
These are the key questions this book
encourages you to ask yourself.
We’ve all heard that you don’t have to
have humor in your talk—unless you want to
get paid. “You have to follow the people
who are having fun, and then the money
will follow,” advise the authors. Well, Mike
Veeck—maverick marketing guru who runs
six minor league baseball teams—is one of
those people to follow.
Who in the speaking profession can argue
with the premise that fun is good? It involves,
according to Veeck and co-author Pete
Williams, sincerity, superior customer service,
and “the human touch” in creating fun in the
workplace. There’s loads of money available
in the world out there; what’s in scarce supply, they say, is having fun.
Why does humor work in our talks?
Because a humorous attitude is contagious. And when it comes to evaluations, it’s
much better to have an audience with an
active sense of humor. So how to go about
it when you’re ready to start being funny?
Here’s a list based on the authors’ advice,
modified for use on the platform.
1. Find your role model.
2. Hang around with those who share a
sense of humor.
3. Find the humor in everything you do,
and then share the best of it on the
4. If you feel comfortable doing so, chat
with your audience and let them share
their humor-filled experiences. Reward
them by tossing them little prizes such
as candies or knickknacks. Give them
a moment to be the star of the show
(but only for a moment).
5. Don’t work for your audience; work with
it. When you think about it, it’s all about
the audience, not about you.
6. Whatever form of humor you end up
using, always keep it clean.
7. Before you use a joke on the platform,
try it out every chance you get. The
platform is not the place to experiment
with wording and timing.
8. For professional critiques, remember
9. For relief if your humor starts falling flat,
you might have a prop to focus on.
“Fostering an irreverent atmosphere
can be as simple as installing a dartboard on the wall,” write the authors.
“Laughter is the key to overcoming failure.” Why not try something like that,
hung unobtrusively at the back of the
stage. At the right (or worst) moment,
just pick up some darts and start throwing. The humor just creates itself at
No matter who your client is, there’s
always a way to insert humor into his or her
framework. “Laughter is the key to overcoming failure,” write the authors. “Make fun
of your fears.” Humor even helps when
things are at their worst, such as when your
calendar looks back at you with empty
dates. Such slack periods make us fear the
specter of failing.
Speaking of fear, what about the fear of
speaking itself? Even great speakers, such
as Jim Ziegler, CSP, admit to fear of getting
on the stage each time, despite their lucrative and winning careers. Actually, write
Veeck and Williams, “Nobody is afraid of
public speaking. They’re afraid of failing at
The most touching aspect of Fun is Good
is the final chapter in which Veeck discusses
his daughter, Rebecca, who was going blind
because of a disease known as cone-rod
dystrophy. He writes about Rebecca’s personality and how she copes with her growing
disability. He’s reminded of his dad as she is
similarly resilient and upbeat despite her
handicap. His father had a leg missing and
joked about it all the time. Rebecca does
the same about her handicap.
“Laughing about horrible things makes
them manageable,” Veeck writes. “If you
take the fear out, throw it on the table, play
with it, and laugh about it, it makes it all
Here’s how Rebecca sees it, in her own
words: “I don’t care anymore if I go blind
. . . Sometimes I get upset because I won’t
be able to drive. I can’t read books and
that stinks . . . But I don’t let it slow me down.
I like to dance, play piano, ride horses, and
swim . . . Fun is Good because that’s the
way life is supposed to be. I mean, if you’re
not having fun, what’s the point?”
Columnist David Ryback is the author of
Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work
(Butterworth-Heinemann). His passion and
joy come from deliv-
ering the human
touch through his business, EQ Associates