Here are some advantages and techniques to getting your audience to work together in public speaking:
Anything an audience does in unison tends to encourage harmonious thinking, and thus contributes to a persuasive effect. Having done things together at the beginning of a speech listeners are more inclined to agree when a speaker asks for action. Also a spirit of good will and general agreement is fostered. Most people like to smile, to laugh, or to enjoy a listening experience. So touches of humor can be persuasive, although humor should not be emphasized in a persuasive speech. Many effective persuasive speeches contain no humor but much human interest. Good willed humor, when used in a spirit of congenial fellowship, however, has a wholesome effect. But “Smart Aleck” humor, or the type that gives a speaker a “Boy-am-I-witty!” manner, does not impress listeners favorably.
A speaker can add interest to his speech by having some popular local citizen participate in it. For instance, at a banquet a speaker was introduced to Mr. Roberts, a local jeweler. Roberts immediately told the speaker a joke. It wasn’t really humorous. The speaker didn’t even get the point. But he knew Roberts was the type of person’ who would be overjoyed to tell a joke to the audience.
So’ the speaker began his talk that evening by saying, “Now I understand some speakers try to be comedians, but I’m not going to try that this evening, because I know there is a local humorist here tonight — Mr. Roberts!”
This statement got a fair laugh. And the speaker continued, “He told us a joke before dinner which I’ll admit I didn’t get because I’m a little thick. He had to explain it to me. He doesn’t know I’m going to do this, but I want him to tell that joke again and see if you can figure it out.”
Roberts came through nicely. He was proud as punch to perform. The fact that his joke wasn’t very funny, didn’t matter. He got a big laugh and a big hand for his spirit, and the speaker was off to’ a congenial start.
After the speaker concluded, Mr. Roberts, beaming from ear to ear, went up to him, shook his hand as though they were old college chums, and pinned verbal bouquets all over him. Roberts chatted enthusiastically for several minutes — even told a couple more jokes!
When a local person takes some part in a speaker’s program indirectly the entire audience feels they have participated.
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