If you’ve ever listened to a successful keynote address, then you know just how powerful the speaking business can be. Not only can a professional speaker captivate the audience’s attention and inspire thought leaders to emerge from the crowd.
But a successful keynote speaker can also connect with audience members and event organizers on a deeply personal level. How?
Well, it helps if those keynote speakers are funny. While we may be biased here at Clean Comedians®, we’re here to list out all the reasons why your keynote speaking should infuse some humor into the speaking event.
Trust us. It goes beyond making a room full of attendees laugh.
First, What Is A Keynote Speaker?
A keynote speaker is a person who delivers a speech at the beginning of an event, usually with the intent to introduce the audience to a particular topic. Keynote speakers are often revered for their public speaking skills, and experience in their field, and they can be either experts or celebrities.
While most keynote speakers are known for their presentation skills, not many are known for their sense of humor. And that’s exactly why you’ll want to stand apart from the crowd.
If you’re not naturally funny at speaking gigs, you don’t have to force a sense of humor upon the audience. In fact, if the idea of giving a funny keynote speech terrifies you, just leave it to us or one of our corporate performers.
But if you want to be a great keynote speaker known for their ability to infuse humor into the crowd, then we’ve got some tips for you. (Warning: you may even attract speaking gigs at a more frequent rate with these tips in your arsenal.)
7 Tips For Making Your Keynote Speeches Hilarious
#1. Use Only Your Best Material
We know how important it is to keep your material fresh and relevant, which is why we’re here to help you do just that.
The best keynote material comes directly from the speaker’s experience. And in our case, our keynote speakers have a robust experience in the entertainment industry.
And by best material, we mean our best performers
You might have other guest speakers there who are industry experts in their own right. But if you want the keynote speaker presentations to offer a little bit of variety, consider going with one of our corporate entertainers.
We make sure they stay on message as predetermined by the conference organizer, so you can be sure that your audience will get the most from their time with you. Plus, their storytelling skills and speaking experience are enough to captivate your audience and inspire change by the time the speech is done.
Whether you’re looking for a keynote speech or an educational presentation, the best keynote material can help take your event up a notch.
#2. Practice Makes Perfect
Practice is the only way to get good at something. So if you want to become an amazing keynote speaker, then you need to take the time to practice your presentation. You also need to practice speaking in front of an audience to get feedback and improve.
(We know this can be scary. But you do know that a speaking career involves this on a regular basis, right?)
Become a keynote speaker who’s as natural onstage as they are off stage
When practicing your speech, don’t just read it off a piece of paper or computer screen. Instead, memorize the content of your speech so you can speak more naturally on stage.
You’ll notice that a keynote industry expert doesn’t need notes to get through their step-by-step guide. Instead, they deliver the relevant content while maintaining eye contact with those in the audience, utilizing appropriate hand gestures all the while.
Remember, you can never practice too much, especially if you don’t have a lot of public speaking experience. Even if you start by practicing in front of your friends, with time, you’ll be able to both create content and deliver it with ease in front of an entire room of thought leaders.
#3. Use Humor In Your Opening
When you’re trying to be a funny keynote speaker, there are a lot of different things that can go wrong. For example, you might be too informal or not humorous enough.
Or, you may even make people uncomfortable with the kind of jokes you tell. But one of the best ways to get everyone in the room laughing is to start your speech with a joke.
Why a sense of humor will make you a better speaker
Humor is an important part of any keynote speech. It helps break the ice, lighten the mood for your event attendees, and gives them something to remember you by after the address has ended.
In fact, recent articles note that humor can actually boost retention. So as you go through your keynote speaker address, humor can actually help the audience feel more engaged.
That being said, it’s important that you don’t make humor the main focus of your speech. If you start every single sentence of your speech with a joke, then people will start getting annoyed and not paying attention anymore.
But a good speaker starts with a solid opening joke, then transitions on to the subject area at hand. Once the keynote speaker has reeled in the attendees, they’re more likely to land their talking points after the fact.
Don’t shy away from infusing your own personality into the talk
That being said, don’t shy away from infusing your own personality into your speeches either. Becoming a keynote speaker doesn’t mean becoming somebody else.
In fact, it’s important to be yourself. Think about what makes you laugh and use that as inspiration for what will make the audience laugh.
People love hearing stories about real-life experiences, so tell a story or two that includes some humor. You don’t have to be on stage telling jokes; just sprinkle in some funny moments throughout your presentation to help liven the atmosphere and add some personality to it!
#4. Don’t Try To Be A Stand-Up Comedian
A funny keynote speaker or guest speaker is a unique brand of professionalism. The ability to entertain an audience with humor is a rare and valuable skill.
But it’s not something that you can easily just teach. You have to be able to do it naturally, or you’ll never be able to deliver the jokes you want your audience to laugh at.
Jokes should not be the bulk of your entire talk
The first thing you need to do if you want to learn how to become a keynote speaker that’s funny is to give up on the idea that you can just stand up on stage and tell jokes as a stand-up comedian does. If you try doing that, it will come across as forced and unnatural—and your audience will sense it immediately.
Instead, think about what makes people laugh in real life. Or better yet, do your own research on the attendees beforehand to tailor your media kit to speak directly to their sense of humor.
Maybe you’re speaking at a marketing conference. Try to shuffle in some jokes about marketing through the keynote speech.
But if you want the talk to be funny, go with a professional
If all of this seems like too much to handle, choose a keynote speaker from speakers bureaus like Clean Comedians® to do that very work for you. A speaking group will automatically supply you with other speakers who are at the top of their game.
But when you go with Clean Comedians®, your speeches are guaranteed to make the whole conference room burst with laughter. And what accompanies laughter? More word-of-mouth recommendations, boosting more visibility for your company event as a whole.
#5. Don’t Be Afraid to Pause or Use Silence
A good keynote speaker knows how to pause, and they know when to use silence.
While this may seem counterintuitive, it’s actually a really important part of being a great speaker – and thought leader, for that matter. Pauses allow the audience to take in what you are saying and it gives them time to absorb the ideas of the talk without feeling rushed or overwhelmed by too much information at once.
Pauses also help you deliver your message with more authority and sincerity than if you were just speaking at top speed. When you’re moving at a brisk pace, it can be easy for an audience member not to pay attention or tune out.
Use silence for emphasis
When you pause, you force them to focus on what you’re saying. You can also use pauses to engage with members of your audience and make eye contact with people who seem like they might have questions or concerns about what you’re talking about.
If something particularly important needs emphasis or clarification, try using silence instead of speaking over it (which is often done as a way of conveying importance). This gives people time to think about what has been said before continuing on with their own thoughts about it or asking questions about any part of what was said.
#6. Keep The Audience Engaged
Speakers, especially magician speakers, always want to know how to keep their audience engaged. And most speakers will tell you that it’s through eye contact on a consistent basis and open body language you carry throughout the event.
But many forget that humor is also an excellent tool for a speaker looking to keep their audience engaged. Humor roots us in the present moment and demands the audience’s focus when we speak.
That’s why some of the most memorable events have a funny keynote speaker. Even still, when speaking, try to make eye contact with each audience member as often as possible.
This will help the audience feel connected to you and invested in your words as a thought leader. It also helps them see that you’re talking about things that matter to them personally, making them more likely to care about what comes next.
Maintain control of your engagement too
Additionally, try not to fidget too much during your presentation. Fidgeting distracts from your message and may make it hard for people to hear what you’re saying clearly because their attention is focused on how nervous they feel watching you move around so much (or maybe even why they feel nervous).
If there are any times during the presentation when you need something specific from an audience member (like a response or feedback), try directing your gaze toward that person first before asking for anything else so that they know exactly what to do. That way, they won’t be confused about whether you’re asking for their input or just trying to keep them entertained.
#7. Ask For Feedback
One key to being a funny keynote speaker is to ask for feedback. Asking for feedback from your audience after the event is an important part of the speaker’s job because it shows them that you care about what they think. It also allows them to tell you what worked and didn’t work so that you can improve your next event speech.
What kind of feedback to ask for
When asking for feedback, try asking questions like: What did you like best? What did you not like about it? Was there anything that made you laugh? Were there parts of my talk that confused or bored you?
Each event you speak at is an opportunity to do better at the next conference. So take this feedback seriously and implement the necessary changes moving forward.
It’s one thing to learn how to become a keynote speaker. It’s another thing entirely to learn how to become a funny keynote speaker.
Hopefully, these tips have helped you pinpoint how to infuse humor into your speech. Because those laughs in the conference hall will only turn into solidified relationships over time.
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.