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Art of Public Speaking:

Anachronisms

Anachronism is a person, place, or event that is placed in a time period in which it does not belong. The art of public speaking can include the use of anachronisms. For instance, Paul Revere riding a motorcycle or George Washington sitting in front of a computer would be anachronisms, though here at the Virginia Beach home of the Advanced Public Speaking Institute, an hour's ride from Williamsburg, we have a picture of "George Washington" just above my desk... and computer. And yes, Paul Revere is always welcome.

Even the golden tongued orator Patrick Henry of Virginia would likely willingly come to learn the newest techniques in the art of public speaking, even if an anachronism.

You see advertising strategies using anachronisms all the time, especially around Washington's Birthday federal holiday, Columbus Day, and even Lincoln's birthday. To promote the Sacagawea golden dollar coin, full page ads of George Washington in a modern tuxedo at a cocktail party surrounded by young women whose skin color suggests they might be American Indian were seen often in newspapers.

So you had the old man and the George Washington dollar bill, and the young Indian woman with the new Sacaqawea dollar coin.

The relationship between new and old is always interesting. Anytime you can highlight that relationship in your art of public speaking assignments you will evoke mild humor and create more attention on your product, service, or point.

I saw an ad for fluorescent light bulbs that had Thomas Edison working on a phonograph. The caption read: "If Thomas Edison wouldn't have wasted his time on this (incandescent bulb), his phonograph might have been a CD player."

Here is a good fill-in-the-blank format. Would (big name from the past) have________________ if he had ________________? All you have to do is make a simple relationship and your message will be amusing and memorable.

"Would George Washington have thrown his money across the Potomac if he had ABC investment company on his side?"

Once you get the relationship down in your art of public speaking, you can adjust the form to suit your speaking engagement. The "Man on the Money" George Washington/ABC investment anachronism could turn into a good, usable one-liner, some spice in your art of public speaking.

"George Washington wouldn't have thrown his money across the Potomac if he had come to us for advice."

By the way, the manual for the art of public speaking tells us some physics professors say there is no way George Washington could have thrown a dollar coin across the river, but any economics professor could tell you, "A dollar went a LOT further back then."

Copyright 1998 - 2004

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