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Public Speaking Training: 

Audience Gags

Public speaking training talks about using audience gags during your presentation.  Audience gags are fun offbeat jokes that occur during your program. Dr. Joel Goodman, from the Humor Project, does an audience gag where a telephone rings during his speech. When he answers the phone that was hidden behind the podium, he pretends to talk to his mother. The same joke would be considered a running gag if the phone rang again several other times during the program. 

Some audience gags that I have used during my presentations are listed below. In your public speaking training you will learn how to come up with ideas for audience gags that will relate to your audience.

Stone the Speaker 
When I really want to focus attention on an important point, I use this gag. Either before the program or at a break, I recruit audience members who are sitting near the front. I give each one a piece of crumpled paper and instruct them to throw it at me when they hear a certain word. Unique ways of getting and keeping the audiences attention is vital to having good speaking skills.

Ten Wanted Men 
I staged a gag at a seminar one time that was loads of fun and took less than one minute to complete. Concentrating on having a good effect and not on the amount of time spent creating is what you will learn in your public speaking course. Before the program, I picked out about 10 fun-loving audience members to help me. I gave them secret instructions that were to be carried out on a certain cue during the program. To start the gag, I had my assistant interrupt the seminar to give me an important note. The note read (I used a serious expression): 
"It appears that someone is in attendance today with another man's wife. There is a large and irate man on his way here right now. If you want out, there is a backstage door you can use to escape quickly." 
At this point, 10 men jumped up out of their seats and hauled themselves out the door. Once they realized what was happening, several women jumped up and ran out too. It was great fun and the gag sure woke up everyone who had a heavy lunch. 

A lot of professional public speakers tell me that's the dumbest thing they ever heard and they would never do it in their presentations. The reason they say that is because they don't see the reason behind it. I use this gag when I want to focus attention on an important point. All of the recruits will be riveted on what I say until they hear the key word. Then, after they throw the paper and I make a big reaction, the rest of the crowd is totally focused in their effort to see what is going on. That is when I make my key point. I have virtually guaranteed the attention of each audience member. And keeping the attention of the audience is extremely important when using the skills learned in your public speaking training.


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