Have you ever been in a meeting and wanted to laugh, even though the topic matter is serious and your laughter probably wouldn’t be appreciated? I’ve definitely been in this situation before. Sometimes, even in the middle of a very somber meeting, something can strike me as funny – and before I know it, I’m dying to laugh out loud.

But giving in to your urge to laugh probably isn’t the best idea. If you burst out laughing, the other meeting attendees might be confused, annoyed, or offended.

So what should you do when the urge to laugh strikes you? Try following these steps:

  1. Pretend to be coughing – I’ve tried this technique before, and I think it works pretty well. When that first laugh escapes your lips, try to make it sound like a cough. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference.
  2. Excuse yourself – Continue to make coughing noises, and act like you need to go get a drink of water. Then quickly excuse yourself from the room.
  3. Calm down – Do whatever you need to do to get yourself under control before returning to the meeting room.
  4. Distract yourself – Once you return to the room, try to prevent any further outbursts by taking deep breaths, pinching yourself, thinking about something boring and mundane (like what you might want to make for dinner), or counting backwards from 100.

If you suspect that you didn’t do a very good job on that first step (pretending to cough), you should probably perform one final step. After the meeting is over, you should apologize to the meeting organizer. Talk to the organizer and apologize for laughing at an inappropriate time. Explain that you were tired or anxious, and that you’re sorry for the outburst.


Griffin, T. (n.d.). How to stop laughing at inappropriate times. wikiHow. Retrieved from: https://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Laughing-at-Inappropriate-Times