Ron Sathoff's Speaker Tips
It seems like a lot of old public speaking books seem to believe
in the strategy of telling the audience a joke at the beginning
of a speech in order to break the ice.
That isn't a bad idea, but it won't work if you JUST tell a
joke. Rather, make sure that your joke (or story, or example)
fits in with the topic of your speech. It's my belief that
speeches should be unified from beginning to end. That means
that everything should relate to your main point.
In other words, if you use a joke or story, use one that will
introduce your topic and main point. This kind of joke will be
much more powerful than one that is just funny.
There's an old story about a speaker who walked up to the podium
and said "SEX" in a loud voice. After a long pause, he
continued, "Now that I have your attention, let's get on with
the annual budget report." While this approach will probably
wake an audience up, it does nothing to get them ready for the
rest of the speech. In fact, doing this kind of thing will
probably turn the important part of your talk into one big