Humour In The Conference Speech

Politics Funny Season

By Andrew Ivey | Public Speaking

Sep 29

You can't deny that Emily Thornberry had a good Party Conference in Brighton this week. But we aren't just talking about the karaoke party. No, her speech to conference was positively barnstorming. Her speech certainly played to all the hopes and expectations of her audience. So we heard a whole range of humour in the conference speech. And she aimed all the digs and jibes at Government Ministers. Not surprising, at all.

Humour In The Conference Speech

Why You Can Use Humour In The Conference Speech

Humour In The Conference Speech. Example 1

But it was her humour that really caught our attention. She desperately wanted to use some humour in her speech. And she did so. Her anecdote about Boris Johnson and Brexit was fun. No doubting. But she needs to work her humour more. Because it did seem that it was Emily who found her own story the most funny. Since she could barely stop laughing.

So, by all means weave some humour into your speech. But let your audience make sense of the humour. Then, keep quiet as the humour sinks in.

Humour In The Conference Speech. Example 2

You might not get that much humour in Parliament. But there's definitely some. Certainly a Rowan Atkinson speech in a 2012 Parliament reception room proves the point. His speech carried some serious points. And he got those points out to his audience with a clever mix of seriousness and humour. And so it worked.

So when you want some humour in your speech, then be prepared for some clever speech writing. Because being funny can be hard work. I don't think I'm betraying anyone with that.

Humour In The Conference Speech. Example 3

Gordon Brown's speeches weren't typically a home for humour. Earnest, steadfast and sometimes heavy-going. But not humorous. So, it was a relief when he finally brought some humour to his speech at his final Manchester conference speech

Even though I’m a full time MP I got a letter from someone offering me a job and asked a reference. Tony said he was writing one, I just didn’t expect it to weigh in at 700 pages.

and then,

Fair and balanced reporting. The Fife Free Press.

Sometimes it doesn't take much to get a laugh.

Humour In The Conference Speech. Example 4

However, it does have to be funny. Vince Cable tried for a few laughs last week with his conference leadership speech. Some lines worked really well. But others just bombed. Sometimes it really is in the telling!

These are people who live in a world of infantile fairy tales.…I’m sure you know the one about the Giant Tweeter…who lives in a White House far away and who flies across the ocean to rescue us from the wicked Gnomes of Europe.


There are some very good reasons to use humour in the conference speech. Here are five of them:

  • check
    You appear more likeable and you probably don't take yourself too seriously. That's what you want, so why not.
  • check
    It helps you to get across a serious point with some humorous emphasis.
  • check
    Humour helps you cover some serious material both quickly and easily.
  • check
    A funny anecdote makes your material more likely to be remembered. It's memorable.
  • check
    Your humorous anecdote will keep your audience's interest and attention. Attention spans can be short, as you already know.

Yes, humour does work in your conference speech. All the evidence points to that. But the evidence also points to the pitfalls of humour in the conference speech. So, when you have the confidence to use humour, then do so. However, do remember to plan and practise beforehand.

When you want more help and assistance with your conference public speaking you can always consider public speaking training or coaching. Because a well-timed public speaking course or coaching session could be just the deal for your next conference speech. Please don't hesitate to get in touch when the time is right.

Yes, Please

Get The Newsletter Today

Telling It Straight is our very own public speaking tips newsletter. Packed with skills tips to help you with your next speech, why not receive it this month?


About the Author

The Principal Trainer at training business Time to Market. Based in Oxford, I run presentation and public speaking training courses, coaching sessions and seminars throughout the UK.

  • […] And the President? A well-prepared short Obama Gridiron speech for the assembled guests marked his very first attendance at the Gridiron dinner. He had some good jokes at himself, close colleagues and Rahm Emanuel. Because you can always make humour work in after-dinner speaking or even use humour in the conference speech. […]

  • […] He explained how cunning, subterfuge and money allow him to mask the obvious effects of the disease. But it’s not in remission. Since it’s there all the time and he has no belief in a miracle cure. So very sobering. But, there’s some excellent use of poignancy and humour. […]

  • […] not discover more about humour in the conference speech? Or, you can always learn more about farewell speeches, at conference or otherwise, with a coaching […]

  • […] session of the day. Even at nine in the morning in Las Vegas. And you too can also get away with humour in your conference speech…but it takes a lot of […]

  • […] courtesy of John Cleese in Fawlty Towers. Who is the 40 something speech writer for David Cameron? Humour in the conference speech doesn’t always work, so it’s always best to test ahead when you rehearse your […]

  • […] good laugh. It worked. But it doesn’t always go to plan. You can always see how others try to use humour in the conference speech. And, it’s not always […]

  • I am extraordinarily affected beside your writing talents, Thanks for this nice share.

  • >