Early Birds

You and your client should get to the hall early. You must check the mikes, the podium height, whether all audiovisual systems are cued up and the lighting system is organized. While you're doing all that, the client should be shaking hands with as many members of the audience as possible, calling them by their first names as soon as they're introduced (or read their name tags). The speaker should circulate quickly, not staying in any one place for too long. The object is to make "friends," since we laugh more easily with friends.

Theater critic John Mason Brown was a famous lecturer, particularly with women's clubs. As he was circulating around the room before the speech, a little white-haired lady, holding a cane, approached him and said, "I'm so looking forward to your speech, sir, because I've heard that you just love old ladies." Quick as a flash, Brown said, "I certainly do, but I also love them your age, too."

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