Public Speaking Course:
Acronyms and Abbreviations
A form of humor that is taught in my public speaking course is
the use of acronyms and abbrevations.
An acronym is a type of abbreviation where the letters of the abbreviation
form a new word, for example HUD means the Department of (H)ousing and
(U)rban (D)evelopment. There are many acronyms and abbreviations that
are universally known such as the IRS and the CIA. There are many more
acronyms that you can research that might be relevant to your audience.
To make these work best, make the acronym humorous by changing one or
more of the words that go with your well-known abbreviation or acronym.
Here are some examples I have used when teaching a public speaking course.
IQ Idiot Quotient
CPI Consumers Poorhouse Indicator
IRA Individual Rest-in-Peace Account
TQM Totaled Quality Management
With a little thought and practice from what you learned in your
public speaking course, it is very easy to customize acronyms and abbreviations
to suit your audience. Here
are some examples and explanations from a speaking engagement I did
for a hotel franchise:
OCC in the hotel industry means Occupancy Rate. I changed it to Oh!
C'mon Clinton because certain taxes were being proposed by President
Clinton that would affect their industry. I always try to connect with
the audience by mentioning the topics that are foremost on their minds.
This gives you the greatest chance of succeeding with an item of humor,
and success with your audience is what you will learn out of your public
ADR to hoteliers, means Average Daily Rate. This was changed to All
Dated Rooms which is something no hotelier wants to hear. This would
mean a fortune would have to be spent to upgrade and modernize the rooms.
IOC was the name of the group I was addressing (International Operator's
Council). This was changed to I'm Ordering Chinese and I'm Out of Coffee.
These phrases aren't particularly funny by themselves. They were coupled,
however, with the fact that these people had just completed rigorous
and exhausting inspections by the Franchisor. That is what made it funny.
Knowing when, where, and what will be funny is a great asset you will
master during your public speaking course.
ANA This is one of my generic favorites. ANA represents Al Nippon Airlines.
I mention that it is a good thing that this company had an American
advisor before they used this acronym because the original version was
. . . ANAL (this is revealed on an overhead projector just after a pause
following the word "was").
This ANA versus ANAL story gets good laughter. I extend the humor with
the line, 'How would you like to see that on a 747 coming at you?' This
question gets even bigger laughs, and "leave 'em laughing when you go"
is something I teach in my public speaking course.
For the hotel presentation, the acronyms were on an overhead transparency
and were displayed using the "reveal technique" learned in your public
speaking course (where individual overhead lines were covered until it
was time to reveal the funny version). You don't have to only project acronyms
to use them in your presentation. You could also print them in your handouts,
or just tell them out loud, almost any method can be used when utilizing the
tools learned during your public speaking course.