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The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write It * How to Deliver It by Richard Dowis

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To be (funny) or not to be

Humor does have a place in public speaking, but not everyone knows how or when to be funny.

A young minister of my acquaintance was invited to conduct a series of Bible study sessions at a men's prison. After his first visit, the warden invited him to have lunch with the prisoners. It was customary for lunch to be followed by a thirty-minute entertainment period. On this particular day, one of the prisoners rose and called out loudly, ''Number 37.'' The room erupted in laughter.

Then another prisoner stood up and said, ''Number 19,'' and again the prisoners laughed heartily.

This went on for several minutes. Finally, the puzzled minister asked the warden what was happening. ''Well,'' the warden explained, ''these men ...

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