How do you use jokes for public speaking? Here are two of my favorites and how I develop them.
Q. What's the difference between a bad golfer and a bad skydiver? A. The golfer goes, "Whack, darn." The skydiver goes, "Darn, whack."
I'll tell this joke at the beginning, then say something about how, in some contexts, our choices are irreversible. From this point, where I go depends on my topic. If I'm talking about drunk driving or other safety issues, it's a fairly clear-cut issue. If I'm talking about the revenue model of a company, I might talk about how the best ideas also can have the greatest potential for failure, and how golf can hurt the corporate environment ;-).
"A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: 'My friend is dead! What can I do?'
"The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: 'Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.' There is a silence, then a shot is heard.
"The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: 'OK, now what?'"
If I'm lucky enough to be talking about failures of communication, this joke for public speaking is perfect. But even if not, it's got potential. In most companies it's easy to draw an analogy between the hunters and some people in the company, the 911 operator and other people. We can talk about power structures, the ubiquitousness of cell phones, or even how it would be better if just used mathematics to express things instead of language. We can talk about hunting safety or public service efficiency. Not matter what the topic, we can start off with a laugh.
Do you have a great joke for (or even about) public speaking? Tell us here!
Be certain to include how you would fit it into a speech. Check out the beginning portion of this web page for an example. (And please keep it clean.)
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