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Public Speaking Course: 

Anachronisms

An anachronism is defined as a place, person, thing or event that is placed in a time period in which it does not belong. For instance, Paul Revere riding a motorcycle or George Washington sitting in front of a computer would be anachronisms. Here at the Virginia Beach Advanced Public Speaking Institute, an hour's ride from Williamsburg, we have a picture of "George Washington" at my desk... and computer. And yes, Paul Revere is welcome, too. Even the well spoken Virginia boy Patrick Henry could still come and learn the newest techniques in my public speaking course.

Anachronisms are very good tools that I teach in my public speaking course.

Advertising agencies use anachronisms all the time, especially around federal holidays like Washington's Birthday , Columbus Day, and even Lincoln's birthday. In fact, 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 an interesting concept. Anytime you can highlight this type of relationship in one of your presentations you will evoke some humor and create more attention to 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 funny and memorable. 

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

Once you get used to anachronisms while practicing in your public speaking course, you can adjust the content to suit your presentation. The "Man on the Money" George Washington/ABC investment anachronism could turn into a good, usable one-liner, to add some spice to your presentation. 

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

By the way, 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."

When your trying to add a little humor, anachronisms are the perfect choice.

 

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