Why is it important to hire a funny keynote speaker especially when you are primarily interested in “killer content” for your audience?
Content + Humor: A Full-on Fusion Boosts Your Meeting’s Success
You know your organization’s objectives for the meeting. You spend time and effort to create the perfect event to support those goals. And then a dry, boring speaker single-handedly makes sure that attendees carry away nothing of value … except maybe a few bottled waters.
In today’s work world, a humorous keynote speaker is crucial to your meeting’s success. Studies show that people acquire more information and are more likely to retain and implement what they hear if they laugh along the way. In recent years, advertisers, newscasters and educators have infused humor into their efforts to persuade, inform and instruct. They’ve realized that without original humor (not old, stale jokes), people just won’t tune in or pay close attention. Nothing against Walter Cronkite, but he just wasn’t funny – “and that’s the way it is!”
As we get busier and more distracted, it takes humor to grab an audience’s attention so the message can be delivered. Studies of college lecturers who use humor in the classroom indicate that humor positively affects attention, motivation and comprehension.
Done right, humor also improves recall of the subject or idea being communicated. Combining good content with original humor is a must at today’s meetings. Who hasn’t listened to some high-cost motivational speaker who wrote a fantastic book but who’s only halfway through the presentation before you realize the information would be really valuable if you could just stay awake for it? Who hasn’t checked the watch or phone as boredom sets in and been surprised to realize that 10 minutes was all the speaker needed to completely lose the audience?
Subjected to speakers like that, attendees who provide conference feedback will comment “I thought the information was good,” which is code for “The speaker was not!” When association members under age 45 are asked why they no longer attend the annual meeting in their industry, they often say, “Well, the speakers are boring and I can get that information online.” The speaker you choose for your event creates the impact and memorable experience you desire for your attendees. If studies show that effective teaching in college classrooms revolves around the connection established between the instructor and the student, then your event should be built around speakers who establish that connection and make the content memorable. Humor is key to both.
And yet, the combination of real business content and original humor is not always easy to find. Some speakers are mainly humorists who tell loads of funny stories with little relevance; other speakers who offer rock-solid content can really struggle to include humor that produces a laugh. Your best results will come from a speaker who understands that it’s not so much a balance of content and humor; it’s a full-on fusion of the two.
This kind of speaker uses funny stories that are on point; in fact, the humor exists to make the point. This kind of speaker makes sure that anecdotes and jokes provide a memorable context for information recall.4 There’s little comparison to speakers who rely on clownish humor that undercuts their authority. Frankly, silly doesn’t fly among VP types. Silly might attract attention but it doesn’t sell the message. It makes your event memorable for the wrong reasons.
It’s worth the search to find that speaker whose expert use of humor keeps your group engaged and taking notes on information they can use to forward their success. When your aim is to have people leave your event feeling informed and energized, forgoing the humor is no laughing matter.
“Comedy is truth – only faster. Things are funny because they’re true. If people relate, they retain.”
— Garrison Wynn, on the power of comedy to cement lessons in an audience’s mind
1 Studies from Bandes (1988), Bryant et al. (1979), Wandersee (1982), and Gorham & Christophel (1990), cited in Kher N, Molstad S, Donahue R, 1999: “Using humor in the college classroom to enhance teaching effectiveness in ‘dread courses,’” College Student Journal 33(3): 400. Available at http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCR/is_3_33/ai_62839448/, accessed April 22, 2011.
2 Conclusion reached in study by Hill (1988), cited in Kher, Molstad & Donahue (1999).
3 Pollio HR and Humphreys WL (1996): “What award-winning lecturers say about their teaching: It’s all about connection.” College Teaching 44, 101-106.
4 Kher, Molstad & Donahue (1999), citing study by Hill (1988).