If you wants the money, you gots to be funny

By Bruce Firestone | Business Coaching

Jun 01

Here’re a few pointers on how to deliver a great keynote speech…

-start on time

-finish on time

-start fast

-finish slow

-get some exercise in the morning (even a 10-minute walk helps)

-practice your speech the night before

-go over your speech the morning of your speech

-practice especially the first 1 or 2-minutes of your speech… after that you’ll start to relax

-remind yourself a few mins before you go on, “I know what I am talking about. I believe in myself.”


-from time to time, smile at your audience, make eye contact, especially when you are making one of your most important points… pause and look and smile

-ask your audience a few questions—get them involved

-if someone asks you a question, take it, don’t tell them to wait until the end, make it a conversation not a presentation

-don’t read your slides, highlight the most important points on each slide but don’t feel you have to say everything in your slidedeck—that’s too pedantic IMHO

-don’t over-explain each slide, don’t go off on a tangent, make your point then move on

-try to use more pictures and fewer words

-don’t focus on how good other speakers are—it’ll just make you feel inadequate (in fact, I try NOT to listen to speakers who go before me for this exact reason and, anyway, I want to concentrate on what I have to say, not what they’re saying plus I don’t want to tire myself out or lose my focus)

-be yourself

-be authentic

-if you forget where you are, admit it and ask the audience for help—they’ll laugh with you

-if you really get stage-fright, take a 2-minute break—just ask the organizer if s/he would mind filling in for a minute or two while you collect yourself then go back on stage and finish—the show must go on

-if you are running out of time, don’t speak faster, simply say to your audience, “I’m going to skip these slides and get to the most important ones,” then smile and also tell them your slides will be available for anyone who would like to review them in detail; ask them to contact you directly to see the rest of them…

-keynotes are, first, about inspiring people, second, about giving folks an overview and broad understanding of the subject matter and, finally, about teaching—don’t turn it into an elementary classroom with you as schoolteacher—assume your audience can already add 1+1

-lastly, remember: FINISH ON TIME

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder
Real Estate Investment and Business coach


ps my mother-in-law, Cora MacMillan, former head nurse at the Ottawa Civic Hospital, told me, “Brains run on sugar, Bruce, so eat ½ a chocolate bar 30 minutes before you go on. If it’s a long speech, and there is a break, eat the other half!” This works great. However, I took her advice one step too far on a single occasion—I ate a whole chocolate bar thinking I’d be twice as good but I was so nervous and jittery my performance went down not up. So ½ is fine, more is not…

pps Majeed Mogharreban, a dynamic young keynote speaker, was the person who first told me, “If you wants the money, you gots to be funny,” so try to be (a little) funny (but don’t try too hard).

So, here’s a joke for you:

Q: Why don’t cows have any money?

A: Because farmers milk them dry.

[Source: the internet.]


Spread The Word

About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.