Ebook Volume 39 Humour for Public Speaking
Reporter: You’re a well-known public speaker. Can you tell us which would you consider to be your most difficult speaking assignment so far?
Speaker: It was when I spoke at the Regional Association of Undertakers. The topic they gave me was ‘How to Look Sad at a $30,000 Funeral’.
When the task is the most challenging, the returns will be the most rewarding.
Mr Larry Lee was the seventh speaker to be lined up to speak. The audience was getting a bit impatient after the six speakers had taken more time to speak than they were given.
So when his turn came, he said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the hour is very late. I have two speeches ─ a long one and a short one. I propose to give both: the short one is ‘Thank you’; the long one is ‘Thank you very much’.”
He then sat down to the thunderous applause of the audience.
Too long a speech that bores people and too short a speech that lacks clarity are two extremes that a speaker should avoid.
A boring speaker was trying to tell a joke. His communication was so bad that most people in the audience could not follow him.
However, when the speaker hit the punch line which was clumsily presented, nobody understood the joke but the chairman of the event was heard giggling away.
“Honey, why did you laugh when you hardly understood the joke?” asked his wife who was sitting next to him.
He explained, “Because if you don’t laugh, there’s danger of that boring guy telling it over again.”
The telling of a joke needs to be painstakingly rehearsed and competently delivered before any laughter from the audience can be generated.
A man was called on to say a few words, but since he was completely surprised by the invitation and was totally unprepared, he stood up and said, “I will stand up to be seen. I will speak up to be heard. And now I will shut up to be appreciated.”
Unexpected and startling comments from a speaker may create the greatest impact on the audience.