Regardless of one's nationality and culture, cartoons and comic strips are the most universally accepted format for humor in public speaking engagements. These pieces of visual humor are seen in newspapers and magazines in most areas of the world. They may be found in newsstands in large cities, or in large libraries.
It might be fun to collect cartoons and comic strips when you travel so you have a ready supply when you need one for a speaking engagement. Be careful to avoid cartoons that have political overtones. If you are speaking to a small group, you can show the periodical or pass it around. If you want to use the cartoon or comic strip in a visual, you may need permission from the artist or copyright owner. Always read the caption for a foreign audience and give them time to mentally translate what you say. It may take what seems to be forever (4-6 seconds) for the idea to sink in. Another good resource for cartoons is ‘Witty World International Cartoon Magazine’ by Creators Syndicate.
Other forms of visual humor that transcend most cultural barriers are juggling and magic. Good resource materials are available on both topics. ‘Speaking With Magic’ is a book by Michael Jeffreys that not only teaches you simple tricks, but gives you the points you can relate to the trick. Two good magic videos for speakers by master magician Tom Ogden are ‘Teaching and Training with Magic’ and ‘The Magic of Creativity. '
In Thailand, I used props as icebreakers. I used oversize money to pass out to the crowd because I knew they were interested in ‘BIG MONEY. ’ I also used some softballs that looked like dollar bills so they would have money to ‘THROW AROUND. '
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