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Public Speaking Course: 

Old Humor is Good Humor

In my public speaking course I also teach how to use humorous material to merge entertainment and emphasis of a key point during your presentation.

Humor is only old if your audience has heard it before and if they remember it. Most people don't remember the details of jokes, one-liners, and stories they have heard before. And most people don't mind hearing those jokes again if they were funny to begin with and are told well. 

One of the reasons most people don't remember jokes and other pieces of humor is that the humor is usually heard out of context. The joke wasn't told while making a point, which is how you will use it in your speaking engagement. The joke was simply used for entertainment value to be enjoyed and quickly forgotten.

When you use some of this old humor, you will be connecting it to the point being made which makes it acceptable to use. Even if some audience members recognize the humor, they probably don't remember the punch line. And even if they do, if you tell it well those people will enjoy hearing it again.

The way to tell a very old joke or story is to let the audience know it is old. This is the one time when you might want to tell the audience you have a joke or story coming. If you don't tell them that you know it is old, they will likely think you are out of touch with current life. If you tell them you are going to tell an old story or joke, you are telling them you know it's old, but it makes the point so well that you think it is worth repeating.

You will also come across jokes and stories that you can update to fit your presentation. Some
can be updated as easily as adding a current name. Here is an old politician joke:

Joe the politician said he was so surprised about his nomination that his acceptance speech fell out of his pocket.

All you have to do to update this one is to change the name from
Joe to the current politician or association member you want to tease.
You could also make this a joke on yourself if you know you are going
to be nominated for something. I was so surprised about this nomination that MY acceptance speech fell out of my pocket.

Here is another one that can be used C.E.O's or to tease any business boss:
"A man was alone in a rowboat on the Potomac shouting No! No! No!
Someone on the riverbank said, 'Is that guy crazy or what?'
Another man fishing said, 'No. That's just one of President Clinton's
Yes Men on vacation."

All you have to do on this one is to change the name of the
river and substitute your BIG TARGET where you see President Clinton.

When using what you learned in your public speaking course a little old humor used properly never hurts.

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