Public Speaking Course:
Acronyms and Abbreviations
In my public speaking course I teach a form of humor that uses acronyms and abbrevations.
An acronym is a kind of abbreviation where the letters of the abbreviation form a new word, for example HUD means the Department of (H)ousing and (U)rban (D)evelopment. There are many acronyms and abbreviations that are universally known such as the IRS and the CIA. There are many more acronyms that you can research that might be relevant to your audience.
To make this kind of humor work best, make the acronym humorous by changing one or more of the words that go with your well-known abbreviation or acronym.
Here are some examples I have used when teaching a public speaking course.
IRA Individual Rest-in-Peace Account
TQM Totaled Quality Management
IQ Idiot Quotient
CPI Consumers Poorhouse Indicator
With a little practice and thougt from what you learned in your public speaking course, it is very easy to customize acronyms and abbreviations to suit your speaking engagement. Here are some examples and explanations from a speaking engagement I did for a hotel franchise:
OCC in the hotel industry means Occupancy Rate. I changed it to Oh! C'mon Clinton because certain taxes were being proposed by President Clinton that would affect their industry. I always try to connect with the audience by mentioning the topics that are foremost on their minds. This gives you the best possible chance of succeeding with an item of humor, and success with your audience is what you will learn out of your public speaking course.
ADR to hoteliers, means Average Daily Rate. This was changed to All Dated Rooms which is something no hotelier wants to hear. This would mean a fortune would have to be spent to upgrade and modernize the rooms.
IOC was the name of the group I was addressing (International Operator's Council). This was changed to I'm Ordering Chinese and I'm Out of Coffee. These phrases aren't particularly funny by themselves. They were coupled, however, with the fact that these people had just completed rigorous and exhausting inspections by the Franchisor. That is what made it funny. Knowing when, where, and what will be funny is a great asset you will master during your public speaking course.
ANA This is one of my all time favorites. ANA represents Al Nippon Airlines. I mention that it is a good thing that this company had an American advisor before they used this acronym because the original version was . . . ANAL (this is revealed on an overhead projector just after a pause following the word "was").
This ANA versus ANAL story gets good laughter. I extend the humor with the line, 'How would you like to see that on a 747 coming at you?' This question gets even bigger laughs, and "leave 'em laughing when you go" is something I teach in my public speaking course.
For the hotel presentation, the acronyms were on an overhead transparency and were displayed using the "reveal technique" learned in your public speaking course (where individual overhead lines were covered until it was time to reveal the funny version). You don't have to only project acronyms to use them in your presentation. You could also print them in your handouts, or just tell them out loud, almost any method can be used when utilizing the tools learned during your public speaking course.