Public Speaking Course:
Here are some important definitions taught in my public speaking
PA: Abbreviation for public address system.
Panel: A group of presenters, normally seated, that
hold a discussion on a particular subject. Audience members are invited
to pose questions to individual presenters or to the group as a whole.
Parody: A humorous imitation of a serious piece of
literature or song.
Planned spontaneity: See Canned ad-lib.
Plant: A person pretending to be a normal audience
member, who, in fact, is there to assist the speaker in some way. Also
Platform: Raised area in front of the audience where
the speaker stands. Also, Dais, Riser, Podium or Stage. (as in "Platform
Pleonasm: The bringing together of two concepts or
words that are redundant like frozen ice, sharp point, killed dead,
sandy beach, young child, positive praise (in ways different than 'oxymoron')
Plug: An informal advertisement made during a presentation
used to promote a product or service.
Podium: See Platform. Many people call a lectern a
podium. This is technically incorrect, but very common.
Also Dais, Riser, or Stage.
Practical joke: A playful trick that usually puts
the receiver in an embarrassing position. Also Prank.
Prank: A practical joke that could be good natured
or malicious. See Practical joke.
Pratfall: In comedy, an on-purpose, exaggerated fall
to the floor usually accompanied by flailing arms and legs for effect.
Pre-program questionnaire: Information gathering document
used to customize a presentation.
Press kit: A package of information used to promote
a speaker or performer.
Prompter: A device used to electronically display
a magnified version of the script the speaker can see, but the audience
can't. (Commonly called a TelePrompter, which is actually a registered
In theater, a person in the pit, the orchestra pit, out of sight, to
help actors with their lines from the script.
Prop: A shortened version of the theatrical term "property"
used to describe
any object handled or used by an actor in a performance.
Public address system: Abbreviated PA. The equipment
used to amplify sound for the audience.
Public domain: Material that anyone can use without
the need to give credit.
Public seminar: An educational event which is open
to the public.
Pun: The humorous use of words that sound alike or
nearly alike but are different in meaning as in "Isn't this a punny
Punch line: The climactic word or phrase of a humorous
statement that provokes laughter.
Q&A: Abbreviation for the question and answer
portion of a presentation.
Click here for funny Q&A session info
Click here for serious Q&A session info
Rapport: Of French origin, connection with the audience,
especially one of mutual trust or emotional attraction.
Rehearse: To practice for a presentation until all
the rough spots are smoothed.
Relevance, Theory of: Belief that the only humor used
in a business presentation should be related to the subject of the presentation,
the speaker, the audience, or the location.
Repartee: A conversation full of quick, witty replies.
Also Comeback, Riposte.
Repeat engagement: A second presentation for the same
Response to Introduction: After the introduction,
comments directed to the introducer or the audience about the introduction
Riposte: Sharp, quick action or reply. Also Comeback.
Riser: See Platform. Also, Dais, Podium or Stage.
Roast: An event where the guest of honor is ridiculed
and teased in a good-natured, comical manner.
Roastmaster: The Master of Ceremonies at a roast,
as derived from a "Toastmaster".
Role play: An audience involvement exercise where
the audience members and/or the presenter interact
while assuming the attitudes and actions of others.
Rule of Three: Structure of humor where two serious
items set a pattern then the third unexpectedly switches the pattern
which provokes laughter, or three jokes on one topic in a bit.
Running gag: A gag that repeats itself or plays off
a gag that occurred earlier.
Saver line: Comment made to recover from a (supposedly)
humorous comment that failed.
Sarcasm: A cutting, often ironic, form of wit intended
to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule
Segue: To move smoothly and unhesitatingly from one
section or theme of a presentation to another.
Self-effacing humor: A very powerful form of humor
that highlights your own weaknesses.
Seminar: An educational session lasting from 30 minutes
to several days.
Series: See Bits, or Chunks. Portions of a longer
speech that is easier to learn, or remember.
Shill: In comedy, a person planted in the audience
to assist in a gag.
Shtick: A characteristic attribute, talent, or trait
that is helpful in securing recognition or attention.
In entertainment, a routine or gimmick attributed to a particular performer,
i. e. smashing watermelons is part of Gallagher's (the comedian) shtick.
Sick humor: See Black humor.
Signature story: A story that is credited to a particular
person. This type of story should never be used without attribution.
Simile: A comparison of two things which, however
different in other respects,
have some strong point or points in common. The words like and as will
normally be used when making the comparison as in "His brilliance
is like a burned out light bulb."
Site: The location of the meeting. Also Venue.
Slapstick: Broad comedy involving boisterous action
like throwing pies and fake violence ala The Three Stooges.
Slide: A 35mm transparency. Sometimes used to describe
an overhead transparency.
Sound man (person): Person in charge of public address
system, sound board, recording, etc. during a presentation.
Sound system: See Public Address System.
Speakers bureau: A service company that provides speakers
for meeting planners.
Spokesperson: A person who speaks for or represents
a company, organization or other person.
Stage: See Dais.
Stage fright: Nervousness associated with performing
or speaking before an audience.
Stage left: As the performer faces the audience, the
side of the stage to his/her left.
Stage lights: Lights illuminating the stage area only.
Stage right: As the performer faces the audience,
the side of the stage to his/her right.
Stooge: An entertainer who feeds lines to the main
performer and frequently is the butt of the joke.
Tailoring: Adjusting material to better suit a particular
audience. Not quite customizing.
TelePrompter: See Prompter.
Test Humor: Humor used either in the introduction
or early parts of a talk to determine the extent to which the audience
is in fun.
Testimonial: A statement, usually written, in support
of a another's character or worth; a personal recommendation.
Theater style seating: Seating where chairs are set
in rows without tables.
Timing: Adjusting one's speaking and pausing for dramatic
or comical effect.
Toastmaster: See Emcee.
Trainer: A person who conducts workshops and training
Transcribe: To make a written copy of a voice recording
Transparency: A slide that is viewed by light shining
through it from behind or by projection. Also Slide.
Two-step seminar: A free seminar where attendees are
asked to buy a second seminar or purchase products.