This post is a follow on from the previous post celled “What did Jack Do?” Here are some observations from Jack’s speech:-
Jack used this personal illustration to start his speech which he called Oil Your Funny Bone.
He was even somewhat surprised himself to notice everyone in the speech class, including Minnie, listening attentively and responding to this story.
Why did this beginning get involuntary attention? Because the speaker had “put a man in a tree.” He had cast a mental hook right at the starting of his speech. The story was “different.” It didn’t happen every day, but it happened once to Jack and that was enough.
In addition to being original, this story had human interest qualities, unusual people in action with a touch of suspense and humor.
Suppose Jack had started his talk with general statements, the way so many speakers do begin. Like this:
Most people don’t have a very good sense of humor nowadays. This can be noticed everywhere — at work or play, or perhaps on a city bus.
Something funny may really happen. But people don’t smile.
, Some of them frown instead. People take life too seriously. They need a better sense of humor.
Would this beginning have been original, different, or in¬teresting? Would it grab attention?
No, because instead of stimulating concrete, vivid, action men-. tal-pictures it blurs listeners’ minds. It hints a dozen or more events which might happen. But there is no reality, no suspense or human interest. Nothing specific to encourage attention.
Why then, do so many speakers begin in such a dull man¬ner? Because they have never seen a man in a tree?
Notice how Jack’s story about Red on the bus paints real-life, action word-pictures. Mentally and emotionally listeners “see” and feel the bus stopping. Mentally they picture the old man with thin white hair and hear his high pitched voice. They see. the heavy faces of passengers on the bus and sense the tense situation. Through imagination listeners see and hear Red telling the timid bus driver he should be a cowboy.
Here are elements which are naturally interesting. And people willingly listen because they instinctively want to, because listening is much easier than not responding.
The story Jack told is not the only interesting one in existence. Thousands of them are just waiting to be told. And thousands of dull ones are being told every day too.
We’ll leave Jack here and move onto other areas of interst in persuasive speaking and public speaking.