INDIANAPOLIS — Using a myriad of examples, humorist Tim Gard kept the audience entertained while expressing that laughter truly is the best medicine in times of stress or discomfort.
Despite the stresses of everyday life and the job duty of school transportation specifically, top motivational speaker and cooperate entertainer Gard put the audience in tears during his presentation, “Laughter Becomes You!” on Sunday.
Through storytelling of his own and trinkets for the audience to take home, Gard discussed why humor and perspective can change any situation. He advised attendees to get connected through humor as smiling and laughing is a universal language. Through those simple acts a common bond is formed, he said.
“Change your perspective, and create your own reality,” Gard said, as he showed a picture of a cat walking downstairs.
Or was it upstairs? The point, he said, is it depends on how one looks at the image.
Throughout the entire presentation, Gard passed out objects like tiny chickens, mental floss, and nose flutes, each time evoking laughter from the audience.
Gard noted that stress is not an event, it is instead based on one’s perception of an event. Some stress can be good and fun, like a roller coaster.
He explained that two words can be the first start in changing perspectives and providing a better reality. For example, when something stressful happens, he told attendees to put their hands on their heads and say “bummer.” But, when something good happens, that should be celebrated. Gard advised throwing one’s hands up in the air and saying, “Woohoo!”
“Let the stress go when you can, and celebrate when something goes right,” he advised.
Additionally, he noted that too much stress can be devastating to a person. Instead, he said being resilient is one of the best skills people can have, as it encourages people to look at a situation differently and create strong solutions.
Every day we have choices, he noted, and the outlook of the choice or the circumstance can greatly affect our moods. He advised to not use humor to put people down or diminish anyone, but instead to diffuse the situation. He added that humor is not necessarily about telling jokes.
For example, following the presentation, Gretchen Biancone-Groff, a transportation assistant and safety specialist for Hunterdon County Educational Services Commission in New Jersey, recalled a time that she was having a really bad day and was overly stressed with her drivers. Instead of blowing up at her employees, she played one of the transportation department’s theme songs and encouraged her staff to dance and sing along.
Gard added that using humor as a skill is also the ability to laugh at ourselves when things happen. As a professional speaker, he said he knew there was going to be a day when he would fall off the stage. By preparing for this situation before it occurred, when he actually did fall off the stage, he was ready with his response. “I will now take questions from the floor,” he recalled, eliciting his biggest laughs from a presentation to date.
He advised attendees to create opportunities for humor and to turn stressful moments into memorable ones. Instead of focusing on a moment of something unfortunate that happens, he instead encouraged attendees to think of other moments and compare this incident to those worse situations.
As attendees prepare to go back to their school districts and companies, and to what has been described by many as the most challenging school start ups in history, Gard listed the following steps to encourage humor back at the office.
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The first step is to have fun. Start with something that you find funny and share it, he advised. Step two is to do it for yourself. He noted that a lot of people go home at the end of the day and bring their work home with them. Instead, he advised people to treat work like a gymnast ending their routine. Dismount and leave the work at home. Step three, he said, is to share with others. You want to be able to have fun in life, especially at work, so he advised to share it.
“When you go back after this conference, all the things that bothered you are still going to be there,” Gard said. “Laugh at the things you can, be serious about the things you have to. But look at things from different perspectives and hopefully, there’s a new solution.”
As each attendee left the presentation, smiles adorned their faces as they voiced renewed appreciation for their workforce and drivers.
Following the keynote, Biancone-Groff added that Gard was absolutely correct with his take on the importance of humor. She said you must bring the humorous side of the job to what we do.
“The stress of transportation can chew you up and spit you out,” she noted, adding that humor should be shared with staff, as they are the ones on the frontlines doing the job every day. Humor, she added, can lighten the driver’s load. Biancone-Groff said she will bring her tiny chickens back to her employees to brighten their days.