BA banks on humour to deliver safety message

How important is humour in presentations? Would you vote for:

1 – Not at all;

2 – Nice but not essential;

3 – A potential lifesaver.

British Airways is banking on 3. They are convinced humour is a potential lifesaver.

How many times have you sat on a plane waiting to take off and been instructed to pay attention to the flight safety video and demo. Not a lot of chuckles there. And for good reason. Knowing where to find the exits in an emergency could mean the difference between life and death. 

But come on, own up. How many of us really pay full attention to the safety demonstration?

BA knows that a lot of us don’t really concentrate on those messages.

So they are turning to humour and star power to make us tune in. The airline has recruited seven UK celebrities, including Sir Michael Caine, Olivia Colman and Joanna Lumley, in an effort to improve the chances of getting – and keeping – passengers’ attention.

In the new video, the celebrities are seen ‘auditioning’ in funny sketches all designed to deliver important safety messages. Sir Michael, Olivia and Joanna ham it up with Asim Chaudhry, Jourdan Dunn, Naomi Harris and David Walliams. Here’s the ‘director’s cut’ – an extended version of what passengers get to see.

I was on a BA flight last week and got to see first-hand how passengers engaged with the video. It’s the first time I’ve heard travellers laughing out loud at a demonstration of how to wear a life-jacket.

As well as delivering the safety message, the safety video is also raising money for good causes. The video promotes Flying Start, a global charity partnership between BA and Comic Relief which has supported over half a mission children across the UK and in some of the world’s poorest communities since it was launched in 2010.

So next time you are wondering whether to include a little humour into a presentation – try it.

Comedy is a great disrupter. We expect to be surprised, so we tend to pay more attention. And if the punch-line is associated with a message, we remember the message better. Humour is a great way of grabbing – and holding – an audience’s attention, especially when the message is important, but predictable and dull.