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‘Hello and welcome to this day of interactive learning, exchanging best practices, and COUGHING INTO OUR ELBOWS!’

That’s how I began the workshop I ran for a front line service staff on March 10. Today, just a few days later, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte has stopped any events or gatherings of more than 100 people. Don’t get me wrong, even on the 10th, Coronavirus was definitely on people’s minds. We washed our hands. We didn’t share pens. We didn’t touch our faces. Well, actually we did touch our faces, but we tried really, really hard not to.

But as this pandemic grows, conditions change. Every day seems to bring a different version of normal. Companies are trying to move forward in a smart, cautious way. Perhaps you and your team are working from home. You’re exercising social distancing to slow the virus’ spread. And you’ve realized you need hand moisturizer, so often and so thoroughly are you washing your hands. Hopefully you’re not panicking… but you are concerned. And that’s the trick. To walk the line between smart, informed, concerned decision-making… and freak-out, toilet-paper-hoarding, detail-missing, panic.

At Boom Chicago we’ve got a few practical ways we believe we can work together with you and your team to get through this unfolding situation as successfully as possible.

But first, I feel I must say: we’re all learning as much as we can as fast as we can, and we’re all responding to changes and new rules as smoothly as we can. While this is happening, to stay sane and keep perspective, I advise not losing your sense of humor. Now, of course I’m saying that; humor is my business. Maybe if I was a plumber, I would be like, ‘You know what really helps you act wisely during a scary time? Clean pipes.’ But I stand behind it. Humor helps you feel in control of things over which you have no control. It helps people bond when they’re frightened or confused. It helps people deal with what scares them and then move on. This is ‘gallows humor,’ humor about death and other scary things, named for the jokes people make while waiting to be hanged. And gallows humor doesn’t exist because people suddenly find nooses hilarious. It’s a way of facing the unfaceable while remaining in control. And while jokes cannot solve the enormous problems already caused by this virus — nor those whose shoes haven’t yet dropped — a sense of humor will help us all get through them with our heads held high.

Speaking of making jokes about things over while I have no control, am I the only one who’s tired of reading that ‘President Trump says’ X or Y about the virus or how to deal with it? I feel like that phrase implies a guy who knows what he’s talking about — which he demonstrably does not. I suggest should everyone switch to, ‘Uninformed loudmouth from Queens says…’ As in, ‘Uninformed loudmouth from Queens says virus will ‘just go away’ 24 hours before banning travelers from Europe.’ Or, ‘Uninformed loudmouth from Queens says doctors surprised how well informed he is about the virus.’ Or even, ‘Uninformed loudmouth from Queens plays golf more than predecessor whom he said played golf too much.’ See? Gallows humor! But, I digress.

Okay, let’s work together to get through this. Some ways we can help:

External: Keep the Momentum Until Your (Delayed) Event with Custom Videos 
With so many events delayed for public safety reasons, there’s a danger that participants and partners will lose enthusiasm and focus. That would make a bad situation even worse. And weren’t your event’s messages meant to be communicated now, not several months down the line?

We can help keep the connection with your audience to maintain their interest. Our videos can reinforce your message with energy and humor. And they can rebuild momentum, and keep everyone looking forward to the new big day. There is a serious reason to delay; there is no reason to let staff, customers or other stakeholders disconnect from your goals and strategy.

Internal: Smart Pivot: Help Your Team Calm Down and Move Forward 
A new program from Boom Chicago. As you move through a 2020 that looks will likely be much more difficult than it seemed a few months ago, we don’t know what the right next step is for you and your company. But we know how to give you and your team the tools you need to figure it out for yourselves. Tools that will help them to:

  • Keep a calm head and get the facts
  • Ask the right questions and listen to all voices to find answers
  • Be open to hearing the bad news and any criticism
  • Decide and act quickly
  • Work together to maintain a positive environment where innovation (and humor) can thrive

This program was designed for teams that are going to the office. If we do it that way, we will limit the amount of participants and maintain strict protocols for safety.
We can also run a version of this program digitally using conferencing technology.

Internal: Use Digital Learning for Teams That Are Working From Home
Perhaps your company has everyone working from home. We can help you create a new digital learning program for your team. Custom made, humorous (or not, if you insist) programs that can teach:

  • Company values and strategies
  • Onboarding information from HR and beyond

We can also make interactive video that helps your team work on the skills we would work on with them if we were there. Active listening, pitching and story-telling, collaboration and more. These videos provide instruction, challenges and activities as wells as tools for self evaluation or mutual evaluation within groups of two or three.

Please: be safe, be smart, and move forward. And enjoy the best example of not panicking ever, Elastigirl from The Incredibles, after her plane is shot out of the sky.

Pep Rosenfeld

PepPep Rosenfeld

As Director of Creative Content, Pep does it all: He’s a high level event host & facilitator, writer, stand-up comedian, public speaker, coach, and developer of innovative corporate programs. A co-founder of Boom Chicago, Pep’s passion is using comedy to make hard-to-communicate messages land and stick, as featured In his 2012 TED talk, ‘Fight, Flight or Make Your Opponent Laugh.’ Pep hosts events like TEDx Amsterdam, The Next Web Conference, The Nordic Business Forum, and the Spin Awards to rave reviews, and he was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on America’s long-running television show, Saturday Night Live.