You can’t beat the classics. When you hear that one you know someone is going to get the beating they deserve. It might be the speaker or it might be the audience. It’s a 50/50 bet.
And it’s a sucker bet if you don’t know the person on the podium – or know how long they are going to be allowed to speak. That intro has been the portal to public speaking hell many times before…
It’s a fraught thing, too, for the speaker if they don’t know the audience. How many of them are good listeners? How many of them are as dumb as a bag of hammers. How many of them are packing sidearms? The speaker will want to know, or at least be closer to the door than they are.
The best bet for a speaker is to be frank, honest, and brief. They need not be funny, unless they’re doing the dinner show in a Catskill resort. And the very best insurance is to present a stock speech – to have done it before. Even if the speaker doesn’t not know what the hell they’re on about, like a Presidential candidate, if they’ve said before they’ll at least recognise the rhythm of their voice…as they lie shamelessly.
And then there is the applause. Speakers often mistake tumultuous applause as evidence that the audience loves them and agrees with them. Nothing of the sort -a big round of applause may erupt for the fact that they have come to the end, shut up, and can be taken outside to be tarred and feathered.
The best accolade for a serious speech is a breathless silence during the delivery – for a comic one it is someone going into an uncontrollable laughing jag and being carted out of the room by Security. I have observed both from a podium.
And in conclusion…