Friday, April 23, 2010

Public Speaking: Juxtaposition, Oxymorons and Pleonasms

Where can you find public speaking humor for your next event? With some advanced planning, you can set up some humorous scenes to enliven your public speaking presentation and add some fun for your audience.

A public speaking technique I have used in the past is juxtaposition, which is placing two ideas or items side by side, usually to compare or contrast the ideas. Think of extremely small or outrageously large items place side by side.

Here is how I once used juxtaposition. I staged an event at a large international airport to welcome a man arriving from another country for his first visit to the United States. I had two men dressed as chauffeurs waiting for him. One man weighed about 450 pounds and the other man was less than four feet tall. I gave the huge man a sign about the size of a business card with the visitor’s name on it and had the tiny man hold a massive sign similar to the small sign. This set the stage for a very comical greeting for the visitor.

Two specialized types of juxtaposition are oxymorons and pleonasms. An oxymoron brings together two contradictory words or concepts that do not go together but are used together. Examples are old news, bad luck, dressy casual and dry lake.

A pleonasm is bring together two words or concepts that are redundant. Some examples are frozen ice, young child, advance warning, brief moment and final outcome.

Here are some suggestions for using juxtapositions in your presentations.
* Create a welcome or greeting slide.
Place a large copy of your company name or logo on a slide or flip chart page. Next to it, insert an extremely small copy of your competitor’s company name or logo.
* Ask a person much shorter or taller than you to join you on stage. If the person is taller than you, say, “I don’t want you to talk down to me.” If the person is shorter, say, “I don’t want to feel as if I’m talking down to you.”
* In conjunction with a simile, use an oxymoron to illustrate that something isn’t quite right. For example, you could point out, “That company claims that its market share is increasing; however, their sales are down while everyone else’s are rising. It’s like agreeing to disagree. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Make $5500 or more every time you speak!

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