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Public Speaking: Anachronisms

A person, place, or event that is placed in a time period in which it does not belong is called an anachronism. For instance, Paul Revere riding a motorcycle or George Washington sitting in front of a computer would be anachronisms. You see advertising strategies using anachronisms all the time, especially around Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays and Columbus Day. I saw an ad for fluorescent light bulbs that had Thomas Edison working on a phonograph. The caption read: "If Thomas Edison wouldn't have wasted his time on this (incandescent bulb), his phonograph might have been a CD player." 

The relationship between new and old is always interesting. Anytime you can highlight that relationship in your public speaking engagements you will evoke mild humor and create more attention on your product, service, or point. 

Here is a good fill-in-the-blank format. Would (big name from the past) have________________ if he had ________________? All you have to do is make a simple relationship and your message will be funny and memorable. 

Would George Washington have thrown his money away in the Potomac if he had ABC investment company on his side? 

Once you get the relationship down, you can adjust the form to suit your speaking engagement. The George Washington/ABC investment anachronism could turn into a good, usable one-liner. 

George Washington wouldn't have thrown his money in the Potomac if he had come to us for advice.

Had George Washington carefully pondered before chopping down that cherry tree, he would have anticipated all the cherry pies that he would have enjoyed.

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