One time they were having this conference for the Iowa Latino Business Association, and they asked me to come and do a speech. I says sure, as long as they could make sure my hotel room had a coffeepot in there that didn’t set the whole room on fire if I tried to break it. So they says fine and there I was. My speech was so good that I wrote an entire article about it. I even gave a speech about the speech once. So here’s what I wrote, which is pretty good too. I might have to give a speech about this article someday. You never know. So here’s what I said, and some important tips next time you’re talking to a Latino Business Association in Iowa.
â€œWell hello there. It’s nice to be here in Iowa, the land where palm trees sway and the buffalo roam through beautiful downtown Burbank. Ha, I always liked that bit.â€
Good speakers should make the audience comfortable. One way to do that is to say something nice about the place they’re at. It’s better to take their coats at the door and pour coffee, but the hotel guys get mad when you do that cause they’re cranky.
â€œSo now I have a question for you all. I think you’ll like it. Knock knock. Who’s there? The Iowa Latino Business Association. The Iowa Latino Business Association who? The Iowa Latino Business Association who paid me four G’s to fly out to this dump!â€
The opening joke is your one best chance to get the audience’s attention. Knock knock jokes are good because they are funny in every language except ancient Egyptian. Just don’t use my joke, or I’ll call the cops and have you locked up. Make up your own joke, for crying out loud.
â€œNow I’d like to do a magic trick for you. You there, the chunky guy with the ugly necktie on- can you guess what number I’m thinking of? Seven? Nope, wrong. It was forty-eight. Think harder next time.â€
See, most guys tell their joke and then it’s down to business. My specialty is to do a joke and then a magic trick. If the audience gets bored they’ll start throwing silverware at you. I do that all the time at boring speeches. One time Teddy Roosevelt was giving a speech about the government but everybody wanted to hear him talk about deviled eggs and he wouldn’t do it. That’s when he got shot and the Mexican War restarted. Think about it.
â€œSo here’s what I think. If you really want to succeed in the world of Latino Business Associations, remember three rules. One, a water cooler shouldn’t have any goldfish in it, cause they’ll talk your damn ear off and you can’t get anything done then. Two, workers who carry swords around are more productive, but your company’s ‘sports day’ will get a little bloody. And three, every business should have a drive-thru window, or else you’ll miss out on the all-important market share of people who are stuck inside their cars. Thanks and good night.â€
I researched these three rules and many business leaders have told me they’re pretty good, so good for me. The thing is, these rules would be no good for, say, an acrobat. You’d need different rules, cause that’s what knowing your audience is all about- businesses and acrobats need different rules. Except for the sword-carrying one, cause that’s good for just about anybody.