Public Speaking Course:
Glossary A - E
Here are some important definitions taught in my public speaking
Acronym: A form of abbreviation where the letters
of the abbreviation form a new word as in HUD for The Department of
Housing and Urban Development (not HUT, but HUD), or JIRC for Judicial
Inquiry and Review Commission (Truly, it exists in Virginia.)
Ad-lib: Unplanned words or phrases spoken during a
Alliteration: The repetition of the same first sound
or the same first letter in a group of words or line of poetry as in
from stem to stern.
Anachronism: A person, place, or event that is placed
in a time period in which it does not belong.
(Such as "George Washington", live, sitting in front of a
computer in my office.)
Analogy: A comparison of two things that are alike
in some ways and different in others.
(An example is your brain is similar to a computer.)
Anecdote: A short interesting or amusing incident.
Aside: In the theater, something said to the audience
that is pretended not to be heard by the other actors. In television,
the actor would look right at the camera and talk to the viewers. In
a speech or presentation, the speaker would make a temporary departure
from the main theme or topic.
Attribution: Crediting the source of material used
in a presentation.
Audience gag: A joke pulled on the audience, sometimes
with some of the audience members used as shills (willing participants).
Audience participation: The audience doing something
other than listening during a public speaking engagement. Some of them could be on-stage with you, carrying on group discussions,
playing games, singing, etc.
A/V: Abbreviation for audiovisual equipment, such
as overhead projectors, tape recorders, slide projectors, microphones,
Bits: A short section of material so related that
it is easy to memorize. Also called Chunks, Series.
Black Humor: According to Webster's Dictionary, (Note:
Please don't use in a professional presentation),
"Humor that ignores human suffering and looks for the absurdity
in any experience, even the most tragic." Used as a stress reliever
in many high pressure occupations (medicine, law enforcement, military,
Also Sick humor, Gallows humor.
Blocking: Positioning of you and your equipment on
the stage. Also your intended movement on the stage.
Blooper : A clumsy mistake, especially one made in
public; a "faux pas" (a "foe - pa", not a "fox
Blue Humor: Risqué or dirty humor. Humor that
is risky to use, and can kill a career. Also called Off-color humor.
The kind of humor everyone likes, tells in private, but won't admit
it in public. (OK, I'm kidding -- or am I?)
Do not use this type of humor in your public speaking skills, because
blue humor is not meant to be public.
Bomb: In the USA a GIANT failure. In Great Britain
a smashing success. (Anyone speak English?)
Bombproofing: Term coined by your lovable author to
signify the steps you take as a presenter to be sure you don't bomb.
Breakout session: Splitting the entire group into
smaller groups to hear special interest public speaking topics.
Callback: Referring to a word or phrase you mentioned
earlier in your presentation.
Canned act: The use of standard material regardless
of the makeup of the audience (not customized). Also Planned Spontaneity.
Canned ad-lib: Pre-planned response to a presentation
problem or audience member comment.
A picture in which the subject's distinctive
features are deliberately exaggerated to produce a comic or grotesque
Cartoon: An illustrated joke. Also Comic Strip.
Cheap laugh: Simple, sometimes tasteless, laughs that
anyone, regardless of skill level, could elicit from the audience during
a public speaking engagement (this is my specialty Ha-ha).
Chunks: See Bits .
Classroom seating: Seating style where chairs are
placed behind tables.
Cliché: A worn-out saying such as "It's
better to be safe than sorry" (that's a sorry cliché).
Comeback: A humorous or clever retort to an audience
comment. Also Repartee or Riposte.
Comedian: An amusing person whose primary purpose
is to entertain. Also Comic.
Comedienne: Older, less politically correct, term
for a female comedian.
Comic: See Comedian.
Comic relief: An amusing element introduced into a
serious speech or play to temporarily relieve tension.
Comic strip: Cartoon progressing over a series of
Concurrent session: A session occurring at the same
time as another (breakout) session.
Content: The usable information in a presentation.
Convulsive laughter: Violent laughter that causes
a person to lunge forward, backward or both.
Cordless microphone: A microphone which works by transmitting
radio signals to a receiver which is connected to the public address
(PA) system. Also Wireless Microphone.
Custom humor: Humorous comments, skits, role playing,
gags, or costuming devised specifically for a particular audience.
Dais: A raised platform in the front of the room where
the speaker stands. Also Podium, Riser, Stage or Platform.
Deadpan expression: A serious expression contrasted
with funny lines.
Demo tape: An audio or video tape used to promote
speakers, bands, magicians, etc.
Downstage: The area of the stage closest to the audience.
Dynamic range: Gradation of intensity available for
use by a presenter from demure whisper to boisterous screams.
Easel: A tripod or frame used to support flipchart
pads or other visuals.
Emcee: Abbrev. MC, An informal term for Master of
Ceremonies. Also Toastmaster, Roastmaster.
Exaggeration humor: Expanding or diminishing features
or information to outrageous proportions for comic effect.
Extemporaneous: An impromptu or spontaneous presentation.
Extender line: Line added to the end of a humorous
comment that evokes additional laughter.