In public speaking one of the keys is to get and keep your audience’s attention. Here is a way to get their attention quickly that uses an advertising secret.
Advertisers know the value of moving objects. Notice the many lively neon lights inviting people into front doors. Everything from multicolored dancing pigs to starry rockets. But how active are exit signs? One never dances a jig. Customers must be attracted to enter, so “Come on in” signs are made to grab attention. As a departing customer adds nothing to company-funds, exit signs are made no more attractive than necessary.
Objects which appear or move in unusual ways compel attention. For instance, J. C. Penney store managers have displayed a floating hat in their front windows. Air pressure from a concealed source caused a man’s hat to “float” in the air. A person who is at all observant could hardly pass one of those windows without noticing the floating hat, and consequently the brief advertising statements about it.
Speakers can use this natural attention-getting principle to advantage. For instance, an insurance agent, who was taking a course in business and professional speaking, used a set of “magic”‘ false teeth to show that many people talk without saying much.
As he tossed the teeth upon a table, a hidden spring caused them to bounce around and go, clack-a-tee, clack-a-tee, clack, clack, clackl
“That’s all some people do!” declared the speaker. “They just ‘yak-a-tee-yak!’ ”
Another speaker used a similar set o£ teeth to “break the ice” after being introduced to an audience. He said, “I must be careful what I say tonight. I’ve found it, pays, ever since a man in one of my audiences looked at me with narrow eyes like a TV cowboy about ready to draw his six-shooter. Very slowly he put his hand into his coat pocket, like this. Was he going to shoot me? He pulled from his pocket not a gun, but this.” When the speaker displayed the clattering teeth the audience laughed. And they laughed again when a well-known dentist called from the front row, “Say, I’ll buy those!”
Think about how you can use a visual aid in your next speech to break the ice or illustrate a point. I’ll follow up with some more examples of visual aids speakers have used in their speeches in my next post.