Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Presentation Skills: Exaggeration

Expanding or diminishing proportions can be a fun way to create humor. It's similar to a caricature artist that outrageously exagerates the features of an individual, while still
keeping the person recognizable.

I did a talk one time for Secretaries Day at a large insurance company. I was
making a point about how hectic it always was for the secretaries. It went like
this, You're answering the telephone, the fax machine is ringing, you're
making copies, and you're filing every policy clear back to 1910. The
secretaries could relate to each item mentioned. They obviously did lots of filing,
but certainly not as far back as 1910. Exaggerating this date was funny to them
and drove home the point that they always had lots of work piled up.

The key to using exaggeration is to inflate or deflate whatever you are talking
about so much that it is obviously an exaggeration. In the last example you
wouldn't want to use the year 1994 if you were doing the talk in 1995 because
it is very likely that an insurance company would really be working on a file for
a year or more. That's not funny.

Of course, who am I to tell you what is funny. I spent two terms in the third
grade Truman's and Eisenhower's.

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