International law firm Duane Morris had a problem. Some of its key staff were not very good at presenting, either internally or to clients. One was told that her speaking “needed to be more fluid and less analytical.” Another experienced “extreme anxiety at the thought of presenting her ideas to the public.” So what did Duane Morris do? It hired a comedian to conduct a workshop on communications. Specifically, it hired Beth Lapides, an Emmy-nominated comedian and “creativity guru” of Intelligent Entertainment Solutions.

Over a period of six hours, attendees learned about the principles of comedy and storytelling, what makes a story funny and entertaining and how to apply storytelling to a corporate presentation. In addition, attendees completed creativity exercises, including Word Montages and Personality Pyramids, that encouraged them to use both the creative and analytical hemispheres of their brain.

How did it work out? Here is what they said:

Attendees came away knowing how to apply humor and storytelling in the workplace and in presentations. Attendees remarked that the workshop “just worked” and helped them figure out how to “apply humor appropriately in presentations and harness [their] own expressiveness.” One attendee learned how to use her creativity to be more expressive and articulate, and thereby discern what the audience wanted to hear (and how it wanted to hear it). Another attendee will continue with phone coaching to hone her skills even further.

For more of the comedy-coaching session at Duane Morris, and to see firm staff telling funny stories, see the video below.

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  • Cathi Collins

    Appropriate humor is the key and it breaks down all barriers. Lenn Milbower, formerly a trainer and presentation skills coach at Disney also conducts these types of sessions. He has an online course that is great and offers many one-on-one opportunities with Lenn. You can check him out at

  • I really think companies should do this kind of thing more often. Studies show that people acquire more information and are more likely to retain and implement what they hear if they laugh along the way. In recent years, advertisers, newscasters and educators have infused humor into their efforts to persuade, inform and instruct. They’ve realized that without original humor (not old, stale jokes), people just won’t tune in or pay close attention. Nothing against Walter Cronkite, but he just wasn’t funny – “and that’s the way it is!”