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 letdown.