When you are public speaking, you are speaking on purpose. Don’t let your speech be overtaken by humor and stories.
Similes, interesting as they are, should be used sparingly in persuasive speeches. A few of them aptly used will tend to help an audience relax, will make listeners more receptive to serious ideas that follow. But using many of them in any one speech may simply amuse an audience rather than persuade it. Mark Twain found this to be true. He had used so much humor in his speeches that when he did upon occasions try to become serious and persuasive his listeners simply grinned at him. A persuasive speaker must never let the “side shows” crowd out the main tent. The real purpose of his speech, what he wants the audience to do or believe — the central theme of his talk, should receive constant attention. He uses illustrations, similes, or other speech materials for the sole purpose of skillfully impressing upon audiences’ minds and hearts the desire to comply willingly with the reasonable main point he is making. An able persuasive speaker will not try to be a platform come-dian. His purpose, is not to have audiences say, “How clever you are!” He will merely be a human instrument through which per-suasion operates. A simile is usually brief. When it is extended it becomes an analogy, such as Wendell Phillips’ statement: “Our republic is a raft, hard to steer and your feet are always wet; but nothing can sink her.” Another example of an analogy is this comparison between life and a game of football: “It is easy to sit on the sidelines of the great game of life and find fault with those who are on the gridiron bucking the line.”
To follow on in this series of making your public speaking interesting will be a post on one a further technique.