Art of Public Speaking Tips and Resources

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Roast Humor and Insults

Being roasted is an honor, but you must be careful to honor people while you are roasting them during a speaking engagement, and that underlying element of honoring is another facet of the art of public speaking. Joke about things that are obviously untrue, then exaggerate them to make them more obvious. Or, you can outrageously exaggerate things that are true.

When choosing the butt of a roast joke or story, pick big targets. Never make fun of a small target (janitor, secretary, etc.). Make fun of the boss. He or she is still the boss after all the teasing and will look like a great sport for going along with it, and so that is in the bounds of the art of public speaking.

Members of 'in' groups can joke about their peers and insult each other all they want. Bob Hope made fun of Ronald Reagan. Everyone knew they were buddies, and both were acknowledged masters of the art of public speaking.

If you widely spread an insult or collection of insults, the group can laugh together. No one is individually embarrassed. The same remarks aimed at an individual removed from the cohesive influence of the group might cause someone to get upset. Understanding the differences can make all the difference, and is involved in the art of public speaking.

Always clear your comments IN ADVANCE! Preparing the way is essential in the art of public speaking. Unless you are participating in a full-blown roast program, always make fun of yourself first. If you kid yourself first, the audience will be more receptive when you kid them. Here are some roast examples:

To an AT&T executive:

If a Martian called Ed's office to contact earth, he'd try to sell them on the benefits of our new 800 service.

Keep remarks focused on unimportant things that can't be damaging! The art of public speaking builds, not destroys.

"Folks we are here tonight to Roast Joe. I'm particularly happy to be here because I can now say in public all the things I've been saying behind his back. He/she is a man/woman of the world . . . and you know what bad shape the world is in."

Insult about areas of recognized strength and superiority! The art of public speaking raises praises "of, by and for" the people.

To a great family man and/or community leader, the art of public speaking roaster might say:

"Joe's (neighbors/business associates/preacher, etc.,) all say what a wonderful couple he and his wife make . . . if it wasn't for Joe."

The art of public speaking roaster might say to a well-known philanthropist:

"He is a man of rare gifts . . . he hasn't given any in years."

At a program with a long head table with lots of speakers, an art of public speaking emcee might say:

"The emcee's job is not to be wise or witty. In fact, it is his job to appear dull so that the speakers on the program will shine in comparison. Tonight it looks like I'm going to have to rise to new heights of boredom."

To the audience the art of public speaking emcee or speaker might say:

"I'm glad to be here tonight to look into your faces. . . . And God knows there are some faces here that need looking into."

"And Doctor Lookgood, your friendly plastic surgeon will be in the back of the room at the end of this program. And Doc, see me afterwards to pay your bill for this makeover of your image, and no I do not take Medicare payments."

Antion & Associates Copyright 1998 - 2005

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