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Why Funny Motivational Speakers are More Effective

Okay, so as someone who is considered a “funny motivational speaker” maybe I’m a tad biased on this topic. But having seen (and coached) dozens upon dozens of speakers over the years, I can definitely attest to the fact that funny motivational speakers are far more effective at getting their message across, for a number of reasons:

1. Serious speakers run the risk of becoming a parody of themselves. Consider how motivational speakers are portrayed on television shows or in movies.  They are usually self-important, preening, pompous individuals who take themselves far too seriously, believe every word they say just a wee bit too much, and ooze insincerity out of every pore. Who in their right mind wants to listen to someone who takes themselves so seriously?  When speakers take themselves too seriously, audiences take them less seriously; whereas humor is a powerful tool to help keep speakers humble.

Funny motivational speakers rock! Seriously!

Funny motivational speakers rock! Seriously!

2. All the funny speakers I’ve seen do a great job at laughing at themselves by telling stories of their early failures and setbacks. Telling these stories is a powerfully effective way to connect with audiences and it sends the very important message: “If I was such a screw up at _______, then ANYONE could do this!”

3. It’s far easier to relate to a funny story of trying to put his child to bed, training her new puppy or getting caught  in an embarrassing situation than it is to someone who has just climbed Mt. Everest backwards in record breaking time. On one foot. While blindfolded. And carrying an abandoned puppy on his shoulders.  (I mean, really, who are these people?)

4. Humor keeps people awake: it’s sort of important to be awake if that whole “motivation thing” is going to stick.

5. People retain humorous messages longer. Study after study supports the fact that people tend to retain humorous information longer, so if the motivational message is going to have some legs, it better be funny too.

6. Humor can help change perspectives and spark new ideas and new ways of thinking.  The whole point of a motivational talk is to get people inspired enough to change their behavior or attitude about something significant in their lives, and humor is a proven catalyst for creative, lateral thinking. It can help break down barriers and help audiences make new connections.

7. Humor leaves audiences feeling positive. Since the point of a motivational presentation is for people to go away feeling, well, motivated, then it makes sense that they should go away feeling hopeful, upbeat and happy, and of course humor can help deliver on all three of those fronts.

Michael Kerr is a funny motivational speaker AND a high content business speaker and trainer who delivers relevant ideas in a fun, memorable way. His next book is called, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank








  1. Comment by Vince Burns

    Motivation doesn’t always have to be serious. I think some motivational speakers are really good at what they do because they are themselves and can be funny but also leave the message behind. I have always wanted to have a motivational speaker come and speak to our work just to make people more motivated around here.

  2. Comment by Mike Kerr

    Totally agree Vince! The key to being an effective speaker is to be authentic and to deftly combine humor with relevant content! If you find the perfect balance, a speaker should be able to deliver as much great content as they can deliver humor – it doesn’t have to be a choice between the two.

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