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Public Speaking Course: 

Timing

Timing is a very important skill to master from your public speaking course.  It is one of the most important aspects of humor and NO ZZZZZs, "Wake 'em Up" presenting. Not only is timing involved in an individual piece of humorous material, it is also involved in where you place that piece of humor in your overall presentation. Timing is also important when reacting to 'expected' unexpected developments during your presentation.

Jack Benny gave this great tip on timing, 'When you are speaking, timing is not so much knowing when to speak, but knowing when to be quiet.'

He should know, because he delivered one of the funniest and most famous lines in the history of comedy after an extremely long pause. He was being held up by a robber at gunpoint. The robber said, 'Your money or your life!' Jack didn't speak a word for an extended period of time. The robber became impatient and said, 'YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE!!' Jack finally replied, 'I'm thinking.' His persona as a cheapskate, coupled with a long pause indicating he was having trouble deciding whether to give up his money, or die was totally hilarious.

A pause lets the audience catch up and draw pictures in their mind to relate to what you are saying. It is the audience's signal to imagine - using the word pictures you practice in your public speaking course.

In telling a joke in public, pause just before and just after your punch line to give the audience a chance to laugh. Do not continue speaking when laughter is expected no matter how hard it is to keep quiet. Laughter is hard to get and easy to discourage.

Hold eye contact a little bit longer than you think you should when delivering punch lines because time is hard to judge when you are pumped-up for a presentation, yet "pregnant pauses" are another lesson you will learn in my public speaking course.

The size of your audience will also affect your timing. Your presentation will take less time to deliver to smaller audiences. Smaller audiences hopefully will mean quicker laughter.

Conversely, presentations will take longer for big crowds in large public arenas. Your pauses will be longer to compensate for the wave effect created because of the physical distance between you and the back row of the audience.

Go with the flow, but you set the flow in motion, and await a flood of fun and laughter.

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