Public Speaking – The "Call Back"

Every year the World Championship contest is an amazing event. Lance, the 2005 World Champion, was wonderful! He connected with the audience and executed his speech perfectly. Lance’s message was simple and crystal clear. And a speech well worth studying!

My favorite line, however, came from one of the other contestants, Rowena Romero. During her interview she talked about how previous winners were all known for something. Rowena said, “David Brooks is known for his blue Jeans — Darren LaCroix is known for his fall on his face, I’ll be know for my stool.” (Rowena stood atop a footstool during her speech.)

Note: Rowena’s comment is also a great example of the RULE of THREE.)

It was brilliant humor. That’s good comedy! Very funny Rowena!

The Call Back

Ahhh! The call back. A “call back” is a comedy term that simply means “calling back” to an earlier laugh line, referring to an earlier joke that worked. (It makes no sense to “call back” to one that does not.)

If you have a laugh line that works consistently, it is a great idea to call back to it later in your presentation. The call back works best after the presenter moves on to a different topic. Then it is aided by the element of surprise, and a psychological connection with earlier laugh.

It can be even more powerful if you refer back to something said by a previous speaker. The audience loves it because they know that you had to be listening, have confidence, and enough presence to add it into your presentation.

An example from the World Championship Interviews: Johnny Uy, Senior Vice President of Toastmasters International, was the contest master. He was simply hysterical! During the interviews he asked the contestants questions in their native language. Most of the audience could not interpret the question. Douglas Kruger, a contestant from South Africa, took the opportunity (the “set up”) to translate for humor purposes. Douglas said, “His question was about my underwear.” He got a huge laugh.

Other contestants then used this opportunity when they were asked their question. Jerry Aiyathurai responded, “Fruit of the Loom.” Rowena Romero said, “Wonder bra.” All great call backs.

Most of you have experienced this as an audience member. Now you have a label for it, and can begin to look for the opportunity. I always try to connect to a huge laugh from earlier in a conference. When I hear a big laugh I ask myself, “How can I tie that into my presentation?”

How can you use this?

© Darren LaCroix
2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
darren@humor411.com

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