Is a Funny Keynote Speaker a Good Idea?When hiring a keynote speaker, the goal is not to hire the best one you can find, but the best one for your event and your audience. Depending on your requirements, hiring a funny keynote speaker could be a great idea – or a terrible one.
A keynote speaker may set the tone of your event. The goal may be to educate your employees on new trends and techniques. It may be to inspire employees to step up their efforts in a challenging market. Or the goal could be to entertain the troops, perhaps to celebrate success or to offer a respite in difficult times. While more serious work topics sometimes flow better with a little humor thrown in, an overtly funny keynote speaker is generally better suited to speeches that place more emphasis on entertainment.
The advisability of hiring a funny keynote speaker may hinge on when the speaker is scheduled. A morning speech will probably be followed by panel discussions, seminars, workshops and the like. This keynote speech should prepare people to contemplate the topics that will be featured at upcoming sessions. An overly humorous speech may not be appropriate for setting the proper tone.
An after-dinner speech, on the other hand, comes at the end of what was probably a long, intense work day. Often the liquor has been flowing at dinner. A humorous keynote speaker now could end the day on a high note. A serious one might result in some staffers tuning the speaker out or even trying to sneak out of the dinner to continue unwinding elsewhere.
If you do go for a funny keynote speaker, you will need to make sure that the humor is appropriate for your audience. A convention of Wall Street executives will probably find different things funny than a group of social workers. A gathering where people have brought their families probably requires more family-friendly humor than one for employees only.
Many comedians pride themselves on “crossing the line” and being edgy. But if you are hiring someone for your event, it is up to you to determine where the line is. Jokes about different ethnic groups may work in a comedy club but are likely a bad idea in a corporate setting. But even a joke that may seem innocuous may not go over very well in front of your group or upper management. Maybe your CEO has a pet charity or specific cause. You probably won’t want the keynote speaker making fun of that cause. So if you are hiring a comedian, you will probably want to look at the material beforehand.
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