I was just about halfway through my speech to the elementary teachers of Bay City, Michigan when a terrific thunderstorm hit. Thunder and the torrent of rain on the metal roof of the gymnasium caused temporary cessation in my talking. We waited for the storm to abate, but it continued. Finally, a public address system was quickly set up so that I could finish my speech.
Next day the Bay City News carried this account of my talk: "The fury of the storm forced the speaker to cease talking but the relief was short-lived as a public address system was quickly put into use."—M. Dale Baughman
No doubt you were under the impression that the last course of this banquet had been served. I assure you that the impression is erroneous, for I am about to serve to you a conglomeration of nonsense which I choose to call, "hash."
The speaker was addressing a large group, and had been talking for some time when the microphone ceased to function. Raising his voice, he asked a man in the back row if he could hear.
"No, I can't," said the man.
Whereupon a man in the front row stood up. "I can hear: he shouted to the man in back. "And I'll change places with you."
A few months ago I heard an after-dinner speech by a gentleman who had some trepidation in making it. He said he had consulted a friend of his who was highly skilled in making after-dinner speeches. The friend advised him that the best kind of audience to address, as an after-dinner speaker, was an audience, intelligent and well-educated, but half-tight.
Now all I can say is that this audience is one of the best audiences I ever saw for an after-dinner speaker. Something has made up for the absence of that element that the remark implied, and I must think it is the spirit of the (appropriate group).—William Howard Taft
I was speaking at an assembly in the Arkansas Ozarks one summer when a sudden shower held my audience captive beyond the hour of adjournment. Since no one could leave without getting soaked, I attempted to time my conclusion with the end of the shower. The presiding officer sat on the edge of his seat, nervously watching the rain and the speaker. The rain and I finished simultaneously and the presiding officer rushed to the podium. His first words were: "Now that the drip has stopped ..."—W. L. Howse, of the Sunday School Board, Southern Baptist Brotherhood Journal
(On the occasion of a return engagement): I spoke here last year and you provided for me an appreciative audience and a generous honorarium. I understand 1,000 letters were written asking that I be allowed to come back. I think you'll agree that a man who will write 1,000 letters deserves to come back.
We will now observe a ten-second period of sympathy for (1) those who have heard this speech before and are too courteous to walk out and (2) those who deplore nonsense but don't have enough nerve to leave.
When I count three, will you all stamp your feet in unison? That is a precaution I sometimes take to guarantee that at least you won't be asleep when I start my speech.
It was a women's meeting and a prominent authoress rose and went to the mike. As she began, she was aware of hissing from the wings. A man in overalls, obviously an engineer, stood there with a screwdriver. The lady chairman went to investigate. She returned, rather flustered, and brushing past the speaker, said: "Before we continue I have a very unhappy piece of news to communicate. Word has been given to me from the wings that there is a screw loose in our speaker?"—Illustrated Weekly of India
A speech is like a wheel—the longer the spoke, the greater the tire.—Telegram, Worcester, Massachusetts
You may not agree but I have observed that far too many speakers when they have occupied the rostrum become dealers in dry goods and notions.
I was once giving my speech on humor to a group of teenagers. Communication wasn't well established, it seemed. At least there was little laughter as I finished each story or anecdote. Finally, in desperation, I announced, "I am inclined to believe that it would take a surgical instrument to put a joke into the heads of some of you frozen faces."
One teenager, bolder than the rest, replied, "Yeah, man, but it would have to have a finer point than your stories."—M. Dale Baughman
I remarked to my wife that I did very well until I had spoken for about 30 minutes; after that I didn't seem to know what to do with my hands. In her wisdom, she suggested, "Why don't you try clamping them over your mouth?"—M. Dale Baughman
Tonight my job is to talk; yours is to listen; if you finish your job before I finish mine, please don't disturb the others as you go out.
I make no pretensions to oratorical ability. This being my first attempt to make an after-dinner speech, I believe I rank as the amateur of amateurs. I believe I am about as green at orating as my friend, Bob Kennedy, is at fishing. You know I took Bob on his first fishing expedition. He did not have any tackle, so I volunteered to let him use mine. We went out to Bass Lake, picked out a nice shady nook, and threw in our lines. After a few minutes, Bob said calmly:
"Say, George, how much do these green and red bobber things cost?"
"Oh, about ten cents," I replied.
"Well, then," he said, "I owe you a dime. Mine's just gone under."
(Opener for the substitute speaker): I have never traveled with a circus, so I don't know just exactly how it feels when the sideshow has arrived but the big tent has been held up; but that is pretty nearly the situation tonight. All of you doubtless came here to listen to a great scholar and a great lecturer but for reasons unknown, he has not made it here. Only the sideshow is here.
For you who are over 39 I have some jokes; for you who are under 39, I have some jokes; for you who are just 39, "Happy Birthday."