as originally answered on Quora.com
I don’t believe that there is a definitive answer to this question.
The best entertaining topics would be determined by the situation and the needs and the interests of the specific group, at a specific point in time.
That might sound confusing! The speech has to be appropriate. For example, years ago at a Toastmasters club humour contest, I heard a young woman as part of her speech ask us “Do you remember when you lost your virginity?” She did and proceeded to tell us about it.
It was funny and definitely an entertaining story. Perhaps in a pub, sharing beers with others, but not in a Toastmasters club. There were family members in attendance. The club President was mortified.
If I was invited to deliver an entertaining speech to a group, I would want to know why the group was gathering in the first place and if there was a theme. Knowing the theme is a good starting point.
I believe entertaining speeches are difficult to craft. What one person finds entertaining, another may not. They may find it offensive. I also believe that for a speech to be entertaining, you the speaker need to be a character in the speech. You can tell a story third person but it adds to the entertainment if you play a role.
I find that everyday situations that we encounter in life can be entertaining if we put a twist on the story and look at it from a different perspective. Stand-up comics do this all the time. They take situations that we all have experienced, interject themselves into the story, doesn’t matter if the story is true or not, then twist it on us. We are left unbalanced. That’s where the entertainment comes in. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Years ago I learned a formula that can help create content for humorous and entertaining speeches. It goes PMF+T= H (Personal Misfortune + Time = Humour). We all experience situations in life that didn’t go as expected or even painfully wrong. These are the stories that we share at family gatherings or perhaps with our fellow workers at coffee break. They could have been very painful at the time they occurred. But with the passing of time and the weakening our emotions tied into the event, they can be entertaining stories. Adding a message or a learning point to the speech is beneficial.
I also learned long ago, not to let the truth get in the way of telling a good story. The actual event provides the structure of the story. Adding embellishment or hyperbole can go a long way in making a funny story hilarious.
I would suggest journaling the stories that you tell to others. Start off by writing what actually happened then edit the story by adding the asides, the humour, the teaching points etc.
Probably the most important factor … is to have fun doing it. If you find the content entertaining, odds are others will as well. Enthusiasm is contagious.
Thanks for the question!
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Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.