2.4 Step Two: Show

Key takeaway: Step two is very important. Essentially, you have three jobs to do: (1) explain how the class is going to work, (2) demo and practice four exercises to make sure everybody is willing and able to participate, and (3) mention three key reminders that serve to either motivate or respectfully excuse any troublemakers that may have been identified.

On this page:

Understand The Reason For Step Two

It is common for new instructors to want to start their classes without giving any explanations. However, this is not recommended for several reasons:

  • Participants may not be fully willing or prepared to participate. This can result in awkward moments that could have been avoided.
  • The class may have faster, slower, louder, quieter participants, etc. A quick start may not be the most efficient way to handle this diversity.
  • A safe and comfortable atmosphere has not yet been established. This can impact participant engagement in the exercises.
  • The instructor has not yet asserted their leadership and may risk the class being taken over or derailed by disruptive individuals.
  • Clear classroom boundaries and guidelines have not been set, making it easier for distractions and disruptions to occur.

To ensure a successful class, it’s important to take the time to establish a safe atmosphere, assert leadership, and set clear boundaries. Here is how it works:

How Step Two Is Structured

Essentially, you have three jobs to do (the “sub-steps we talk about below are in indicated in the image above):

1. Explain 2: Demo & Practice 3. Clear the path
Sub-step 4 (brief explanation of how the class is structured) is designed to boost the group’s trust in the facilitator by showing them a clear and easy-to-follow process to guide them throughout the class. The four types of exercises in sub-steps 5-8 allow the facilitator to establish and reinforce their leadership by having participants listen to and follow their instructions. These exercises also help identify the energy level of participants and those unwilling to participate without explicitly addressing them. Finally, sub-step 9 provides a gentle way to motivate or respectfully excuse any troublemakers that may have been identified.

Tip: For in-person meetings, arrange participants in a circular formation. To keep things dynamic, ask them to take one step to the left or right after each instruction. Nobody should be standing in the same spot for more than one minute. That’s because the human body is designed for movement, and people start to get easily distracted and fidgety when standing up and doing nothing. If you want to talk, invite all to sit down.

What To Say

4. Briefly Explain How The Class Is Going To Work
For example: This is going to work like a plane trip.

  1. Warmup: Imagine that you just boarded, and we’ve left the gate. I’ll give you some brief instructions before we take off; then, we will take off and quickly get into a rhythm and cruising altitude.
  2. Exercise: At some point, we’ll start our descent, and you will notice this by the shift in dynamic to more introspective activities.
  3. Cool down: Then we’ll land, do some easy-spoken activities, and finally wrap up.
Next, briefly explain, demo, and practice with all:

5. How The Brain Integration Exercises Work
I define brain integration exercises as simple ways to stimulate the sensory-motor integration process, which governs how our senses receive and process information. Exercises in this category help reorganize the central nervous system, the hub of our thoughts, emotions, and movement control. They are designed to promote healthy cognitive functioning, emotional stability, and the ability to participate responsibly.

Always start your classes with the Clap + Yeah! exercise. Here is why:

  • It’s a clear auditory cue with a different vibration from laughter, making it clear to all participants that it is time to move on to something else.
  • It’s a smooth way to establish leadership from the start and maintain it in a friendly fashion throughout the class.
  • It’s an easy way to teach participants to listen to the facilitator and one another and do the same thing simultaneously, which in turn helps to promote an awareness of belonging, of having a place, of being “good enough.”
  • It saves your voice because you never have to yell to be heard. Clapping has a different tonality than voice and is much easier to hear than someone yelling when everybody is laughing heartily.
  • It triggers acupressure points in the hands, helps to move blood and energy in the body, and helps build a positive energy and group dynamic. (Read more).

Another such exercise I often demo right after the Clap + Yeah! at the beginning of step 2 is the Ho Ho, Ha-Ha-Ha rhythm and chant because it’s the foundation for many subsequent exercises.

For example: First, we’ll practice various exercises that help to integrate both hemispheres of our brain and make us pay attention to what’s happening here and now. Here is an example: Do what I do and say what I say. We’re going to enthusiastically clap as we say, “Yeah! Ready? Go! Excellent! If you hear me clap like this (clap + yeah!), then please do the same with me. I will use this one as a cue when it’s time to let you know that we have to move on. OK? Great.

Here is another rhythm we will play with in various ways. It works like this: Beat the following 1-2, 1-2-3 rhythm with your hands as you chant in synchronicity, “Ho, Ho, Ha-Ha-Ha. [Clap + yeah! to regain control]

Important: Acting in synchronicity with others is a point of commitment. You will see or hear instantly if someone in your group doesn’t really want to be there because they either won’t participate at all or will do so with resistance. There could be many reasons, but finding it out is not your job, so don’t ask. You will easily and smoothly deal with it at the end of step 2. Patience.

6. How The Breathing Exercises Work
Breathing exercises play an important role in Laughter Wellness and are repeated after every brain integration exercise.

They are designed to bring conscious awareness to our actions and feelings, reduce stress, rumination, and emotional reactivity while promoting focus, cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and more.

The basic idea behind the breathing exercise is to:

  1. Tie your mind into present-moment awareness by doing something with full awareness (i.e., synchronize the breath with sound or movement)
  2. …As you smile. (Smiling while breathing gives access to a whole extra level of benefits.)
  3. …And visually engage with other participants. (Having your participants express themselves and see happy facial expressions in others starts a mirror neuron response which helps boost everybody’s morale and enjoyment.)

Teaching tip: Softly breathing through the nose is best, but breathing in any way that keeps you alive is perfectly fine. If you are thinking about how to do this exercise correctly, you are overthinking. Get out of your head. Just do what feels right for you.

We’ll review on the next page all the breathing exercises you’ve practiced so far in these first two Laughter Wellness practices. Here is an example for now:

Breathing exercises help to:

  • Bring conscious awareness to what we are doing and feeling, and reduce stress, rumination, and emotional reactivity while promoting focus, cognitive flexibility, relationship satisfaction, and more.
  • Keep people grounded and aware of the impact laughter has on them. This is important because being fully aware of the present moment and calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations gives rise to action. Repeated and rewarded actions become habits, and deeply satisfying habits become a way of life.
  • Regulate people’s energy. If participants laugh a lot, then enforcing slow and deep breathing in between each laughter exercise adds a strong element of relaxation and helps them laugh even more without straining themselves. If, on the contrary, they are hard to engage and do not laugh much, then you can minimize the relaxation element by having everybody laugh on the exhale of each of your chosen breathing exercises.
  • Open the door for a gentle physical and mental workout by allowing for light stretches and hand-eye coordination movements.

7. How The Positive Reinforcements Work
Positive reinforcements are simple exercises comprising physical behaviors, vocal activities, key words and gestures, and more – practiced alone, with a partner, with a team, or as a group – that make people feel good about themselves. They are designed to promote healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms.

Having people repeatedly engage in positive, empowering, and life-affirming anything with enthusiasm is an important part of the process of mental reprogramming from NMA to PMA (Negative to Positive Mental Attitude.) It helps boost self-confidence levels.

We’ll review on the next page all the positive reinforcements you’ve practiced so far in these first two Laughter Wellness practices. Here is an example for now:

8. How The Invitations To Play Exercises Work
This category is not called laughter exercises but invitations to play because something much bigger is behind it. Laughing is not the goal. Loosening up, playing, and feeling better and more connected is.

It comprises various exercises, techniques, and games – seated, standing, with or without sounds or movements, from simple to more elaborate, done as a solo practice, with a partner, a team, or as a group – that make people smile and laugh. It’s important to note that the Laughter Wellness focus is specifically on the “vertical” approach to laughter, which is laughing with: Fostering a sense of inclusion, flow, and gratitude for life, fellowship, happiness, and well-being, celebrating life and sharing the best of ourselves, focusing and moving toward what we want rather than away from what we don’t want. We hold true that play is vital for the enjoyment of life and overall well-being at any age.

We always use intentional laughter exercises for the first 10-20 minutes of any class because they are an easy and fast way to “prime the pump”, so to speak, and prepare the way for spontaneous laughter. As you gain expertise, you’ll discover a range of fun games and singing and dancing activities that can then be used.

For example: And last, we will laugh, just because we can, and it’s really good for us. We could tell jokes to each other, but this is not what we’re going to do. Here is an example of how it’s going to work. This particular exercise is called body wake-up laughter. It’s a call and response when one leads one step at a time, and the other(s) repeat.
  • A laughs as they gently clap once, saying Ha!
  • B (or the whole group) repeats.
  • A continues and slaps their left forearm twice, saying Ha! Ha!
  • B (or the entire group) repeats.
  • A now says, “All together!” as they laugh while gently slapping their body up the left arm, across the chest, and down the right arm. A concludes that first round with applause.
  • A now repeats the same sequence but goes from right to left, and B (or the whole group) follows as before.
  • Next, A can go down the front of the body (1 clap in the hands, 2 gently slap on the face or chest, then all the way down to the legs), then down the back.

Teaching tip:

  • Keep each bout of laughter short at the beginning of your classes, but not too short, either. Intentional laughter exercises should last no less than 20 seconds and typically up to but no more than 40-60 seconds. (The bigger your group, the longer they will comfortably last.)
  • Strive to keep your explanations for any exercise in this category to under 10 seconds. If you are proposing a more complex exercise that requires longer explanations, break it down into sub-steps and have all practice each one with you as you demo them.
  • Give a basic idea and let your participants run with it. Allow them the freedom to express their own creativity.
  • As you have already seen, my go-to technique for naming and explaining how more complex exercises work is to simply say, “Do what I do, say what I say.”
Did you notice how each exercise gets delivered? It’s typically a 3-step process:

  1. Tell: Give it a name
  2. Show: Give a short demo of what it could look like
  3. Do: This is the most important step, which is a clear sign that it’s time for all to practice together, e.g., “Ready, set, go!” Once said, there is no going back and stopping the group to give further instructions. If you want to engage in variations, you’ll need to clap again to regain the attention of the group.
Did you also notice how many times each exercise was repeated?

  • For brain integration and breathing exercises, it’s about three rounds (two are too short, and four start to get too much).
  • For positive reinforcements and laughter exercises, it’s up to you, and let it be at least 20 seconds!

Watch any of the demo exercises videos above in sub-steps 4-8 again to see this in action.

9. Briefly Explain The Three Key Reminders
The purpose of mentioning now the Laughter Wellness three key reminders is to:

  1. Remind all of the important guidelines that will benefit them;
  2. Create a rational context for anybody who happens to be stuck in their head for whatever reason;
  3.  Set the rules of engagement for any troublemakers that may have been identified. This is how the class is going to work, not some other way. If you have identified people like that, this provides you with a gentle way to either get them to participate or give them an acceptable excuse to leave the class.

Let’s first review what each of these reminders means. We’ll then review what to do if you’ve seen some resistance because now is the time to address and iron it out. The last thing you want is to have someone who doesn’t want to be there or is not able to listen to your words stay in your class.

Just before we start, there are three important guidelines to follow. Here they are:

1. Connect

What to say: Make a lot of eye contact! Connect with and express the best of you. See the best in others.

Why: The invitation goes beyond “just” making eye contact because we are not machines. It’s not what we do that’s important, but the energies behind it. You want to train people from the very beginning of your programs on the importance of focusing on the light rather than the darkness, on what works rather than what doesn’t, on what we have rather than what we don’t have, on love rather than fear. Connect with and express the best of you. See the best in others.


  • People’s self-esteem and feelings of healthy social integration will be significantly boosted if you invite them to make eye contact at close range. Friendly and authentic eye contact encourages people out of their shells, fosters feelings of trust, and makes them feel more connected with one another and better about themselves.

2. Engage

What to say: Please follow along, do as suggested, and don’t talk. We will debrief at the end, and everyone will have a chance to share, but right now, we want to silence our minds as much as possible. Thank you.

About no talking:

  • Humor is wonderful, but please keep jokes for after the end of the class. Here you want to be in your body and the experience, not be in your head and judge.
  • This reminder is the only one you must mention to everybody joining your class that arrives late. If you don’t, there is a strong chance they will not understand what’s happening and try to fit in the best way they know, which is by attempting to be funny themselves in an attempt to make others laugh. This will be an undesirable distraction for them and everybody else.

3. Enjoy

What to say: Be gentle, take it easy, avoid force, no extremes, and enjoy everything you do. Nothing should be painful and even less uncomfortable. No new pain! There is nothing you have to do. Make everything work for you. Respect your body and what it can or cannot do today.

Why: Why be an advocate of fear psychology? I prefer to focus on what can be done and how rather than what can’t be done and why. This being said, keep in mind that laughing is not a substitute for medical consultation for physical, mental, and psychological illnesses. It is universally well tolerated, but caution is advised in patients with certain concerning health conditions. When in doubt, do not engage in this or any other exercise program, and consult with your doctor to make sure laughter is appropriate for you.

Teaching Tips:

  • Do NOT take ownership of other people’s problems. If someone asks you, “I have ABC health problem. Can I join your class?” your answer should always be, “I don’t know. Please ask your doctor.
  • If they still choose to participate, you may want to lead a very gentle class with everybody on a chair. Prevention is better than cure. It is your responsibility as the instructor to make sure everybody is safe.

What To Do If You Identify Resistance In One Or More Of Your Participants:

Sometimes, some people attend Laughter Wellness events only because they are being pressured by someone else. While it is uncommon, it becomes apparent rather quickly as they either do not participate fully or even at all.

Do not let those who are uninterested in being present stay and disrupt the class. If you face resistance, follow the steps we have established thus far and hold off until the conclusion of Step Two to speak up. At that point, you might say something like this to the whole group to illustrate the “enjoy” key reminder (never single out individuals, even if you all know who are are addressing):

“Today, I invite you to a different kind of experience. What I am offering may not make sense right now, and that’s OK. But if you are open to genuinely feeling better, I guarantee it’s what will happen within the next [duration of your program]. Now if some of you feel uncomfortable and want to opt out, I fully respect it. If that’s you, please stay where you are and have a seat. You are very welcome to join us if and when you are ready.