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Public Speaking Course: 

Old Humor is Good Humor

Another skill I teach in my public speaking course is to use funny material in your presentation to merge entertainment and emphasis of a key point.

Humor is only old if your audience has heard it before and if they remember all the details of it. Most people don't remember the exact details of jokes, one-liners, and stories even if they have heard them before. Even if some audience members recognize the humor, they probably don't remember the punch line. If you tell it well, even these people will enjoy hearing it again. With that said, people that do remember the punch line usually still won't mind hearing it again if it is 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 humor was not used in conjunction of making a point which is the way you should use it for your presentation. The joke or funny material was used for entertainment value only and was enjoyed and quickly forgotten.

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 the modern world. 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 telling again.

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.

Here is another one that can be used for presidents, 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 (i.e. boss or C.E.O) where you see President Clinton.

In my public speaking course I show you that a little old humor used properly never hurts.

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