Speaking Tools That Speakers Need To Learn How To Use: Satire

by drjim on May 13, 2014

Satire is where you find it…

Satire is where you find it…
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As speakers, our most powerful tool is the words that we use. Based on the importance of public speaking we know that our goal every time that we give a speech is to capture and hold the attention of our audience. In order to do this, we need to use words that will tease and excite them. This requires us to master many different word based tools. One of the most important of these is the tool that we call satire.

How To Use Satire In Your Next Speech

Before we dive into a discussion about satire, perhaps we should all agree as to just exactly what satire is. The best place to start such a discussion would be to pay a visit to the Merriam-Webster dictionary and find out how they define satire:

sat•ire noun \ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r\
: a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. : humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.

Clearly this is a speaking tool that we can use when we want to poke fun at someone or something. As speakers we want to keep our audience’s attention. By using satire we can either unsettle or even surprise our audiences. This will cause them to keep paying attention to what we’re saying.

A great example of political satire comes from the American comedian Stephen Colbert. Here’s an example of his use of satire:

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

Satire is a great tool to use when you want to cause change to occur. Your audience may have grown accustom to the way that things are. As a speaker, it’s your job to use satire to ridicule the very thing that you want to change. The ultimate goal of using satire in your next speech is to expose human folly. Do this correctly and you both keep your audience’s attention and motivate them to change.

What All Of This Means For You

Speakers connect with their audience by the words that they use. During our speech we need to find ways to unsettle or even surprise our audience in order to get them to keep paying attention to what we are saying. A great way to go about doing this is to use the speaking tool called satire.

Satire has to do with using the words in your speech to ridicule a specific subject. Satire is actually a fairly subtle technique and so your audience is going to have to be listening quite closely to “get it”. However, one of the benefits of public speaking is that once they do, they’ll be drawn into your speech.

Using a technique like satire makes preparing your speech just a little bit harder. You need to pick your subject and the words that you use in your satire statements very carefully. However, by taking the time to do this correctly you can transform what would have been a fairly normal speech into a biting speech that will be remembered long after you finish talking!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there are any topics that you should not poke fun at using satire?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As speakers we are always looking for different ways to use our #1 tool: words. The English language is filled with literary devices that we can choose from in order to help us to communicate the importance of public speaking. It’s important that we take the time to think about our audience and then select the proper word tools that will allow us to make the greatest impact. For the right speech, for the right audience, sometimes the right technique to use is irony.

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