Second City on the Stage at Compliance Week 2010 Conference

Get ready for a fun, interactive, high-energy conference closer from Second City Communications, the business solutions division of the world-famous comedy theatre. Using observations, ideas, and insights garnered from the entire three-day conference, Second City Communications will play back what they’ve heard, offering a real-time wrap-up of key conference takeaways, and providing a host of ideas you can bring back to your company.

Tom Yorton is the CEO of Second City Communications. He is the suit and probably the least funny person in the organization. (or so he claims.)

They supplied some of the Second City “talent” to help take a look at some tough issues. Lee Smart came back on the stage with two others, taking suggestions from the audience. The first was a funny skit laced with compliance buzzwords.

They played a video from my earlier session at the conference: Second City and Compliance. They then used those compliance challenges in an improv skit, with Lee and the talent back on stage.

Rule 1:  Things are only funny when they are true.

Laughter comes from shared recognition. There is a different between making issues accessible as opposed making light of them. There are risks with comedy, but it’s riskier if not grounded in reality. Use humor to get to the truth. Comedic messages are better retained, noticed and shared.

Rule 2: Dialogues are better than monologues.

One way communication has a limited feedback loop. You want to give the audience a greater stake in the outcome. He also pointed out how the web and social learning make dialogues possible.

Rule 3: Foster an Open Environment.

Humor can make leaders and issues accessible. You can pop the tension bubble around legitimate challenges. Listen to understand, not just respond. You want to affirm and build on ideas.

Rule 4: Say it, and say it again.

You have to fight for attention. In a noisy environment, reinforcement and repetition is key. Think about a daily vitamin instead of an annual inoculation.

It was a highlight of the conference. If you want to see some more you can see the video below and other stuff at the Second City Communications website.

When you make people laugh, you make people think.


During The Second City’s 50th Anniversary, The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch visited with Second City Communications to learn how we use improv techniques to train corporate workers :