How To Be A Humorous Keynote Speaker
Follow The Principles Of Public Speaking

What every humorous keynote speaker needs to know.

A humorous keynote speech has got to be the only way to get an event, surely?

If you’ve been given the job of key note speaker, well done. It means they believe you’ve got a lot to offer the people attending the event. This is the first point to remember if you’re feeling any nerves about it – you already have a certain amount of ‘ethos’ or credibility. Organizers only ask people like you to do keynotes, so relax a bit!

Next, watch out for this thought, or one of its many cousins ... “I’m just not funny.” If it appears in the mind, just smile. You know, that confident smile when you know you’ve got it covered. That ‘bring it on’ smile. It’s no match for you, particularly after you read the rest of this article.

First a quick recap.

What‘s Important About Keynote Speaking?

Fortunately the principles of public speaking all apply to this particular type of speech.

First, every keynote speaker needs to be humorous. Just because your overall message is quite serious, or earnest, doesn’t mean the speech needs to be devoid of humor. People love to laugh. Give them a bit of what they love at least.

Here’s a good article on how to be funny when you speak in public.

As one professional speaker said once , you don’t have to be funny, unless you want to get paid! Approach the whole task with this ‘rule’ in mind.

As with all good speeches, get them laughing early. I always aim for at least one laugh inside the first 30 seconds. Why? That’s what the pros do.

A brilliant technique is to have a good joke or two ready and then relate the joke or story to the event, or the company, or the city, or something that happened in the news yesterday or even the weather – whatever, just get something local or topical in there. You’ll get bigger laughs for the same material.

Start your speech with a good, entertaining story. People love to hear stories. They’ve been hearing them since they were kids. Their brains are tuned to receive them. Never start with a concept or an idea. Start with a story.

Concepts and ideas get people scrunching their brows in a frown. They’re concentrating maybe, but it’s hard work for them. Stories get people leaning forward wanting to hear more. You choose.

Remember, as a humorous keynote speaker you’re there to do a job for someone, the event organizer. Find out what they want. Don’t settle for generalities when you’re researching this.

Dig by asking good questions. Here’s a 2 step approach to questioning:

  1. Start with logical, fact finding questions about the organization, the event, the attendees etc. Get them talking with the easy stuff. Obviously ask them what they think the underlying theme of the event is. Ask “If your attendees were only mentally capable of fitting one idea in their head, to take away from the event, what would that idea be?”

  2. Then move to more emotion evoking questions like “Why is that important to you?” and “How would you like this event to change their lives?” . Really dig for the gold. You are there to make an emotional impact on the attendees, not to spout logical arguments at them. You’ll add real value for the organizer, not to mention yourself, if you do your homework beforehand. You’ll feel much more confident too.

Next, make sure only you can give your keynote speech. They asked for you. Don’t disappoint them. Make sure there’s plenty of you in the speech.

Finally don’t take yourself too seriously. Throughout the process of researching, writing, practicing, delivering and basking in the glory afterwards, I suggest you perform this one simple check frequently. Ask yourself “what are my facial muscles doing right now?”


Were you frowning?

I bet you’re not frowning now!

Have fun being a highly sought after humorous keynote speaker. I’m sure your audience will.

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