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Speakers’ Gold Newsletter
Put together by noted author and speaker Cathleen Fillmore, Speakers’ Gold is a monthly newsletter that combines articles, reviews and tips of interest to professional speakers and anyone involved in public relation and marketing. For more information or to subscribe, visit or E-mail Cathleen at

Here’s a taste of Speakers’ Gold - the complete text of this article appeared in the February 2001 edition.

Making your topic hum with humour
By James E. Shaw, Ph.D.

After spending four years inside state youth prisons interviewing 103 girls and boys incarcerated for committing homicide, my public speaking about murderous kids turning school yards into grave yards, proved to me that, occasionally, paying audiences were disconnecting from me. My book, Jack and Jill, Why They Kill, a book for parents, was being widely praised across the country. Yet a flurry of highly successful radio and television interviews nationwide gave me no indication of what was missing in my speeches.

Greg Dean, my friend and renowned comedy coach and writer, offered to help. His joke development method, as described in his excellent new book, Step by Step to Stand-Up Comedy (New Hampshire: Heinemann), is not about finding jokes and haphazardly peppering your subject with them, but on using the story lines (facts) of your message and weaving original humor into them.

On the Record

An amazing resource for those involved in media relations is Simon Fraser University’s online publication, On The Record: The site is intended to help the staff and faculty at SFU who may be unfamiliar with dealing with the media, but need to learn in a hurry how to put their best foot forward when on the spot. It’s a great place to direct those in your organization just learning how to deal with the media. Also handy when you need to convince folks that a media relations strategy is worth investing in.

Here’s a tidbit from Simon Fraser’s, On The Record:

The Case For Co-operation

Is there really any reason at all to bother with the media? Not too surprisingly, perhaps, the answer is yes. In fact, there are some very compelling reasons to co-operate with the media. For one thing, at Simon Fraser University, we depend on government for much of our financing and, as you know, the government is now paying particularly close attention to how it's spending the taxpayers' money. Newspaper, radio and television stories about the accomplishments of the university and its faculty to help demonstrate that the money is being well-spent. Such stories show that significant research is being conducted at Simon Fraser University, enhancing its reputation as a quality institution where important work is being done. And a good reputation is a big help when recruiting top-flight faculty and students, to say nothing of persuading potential donors that Simon Fraser is worthy of their financial support.

In addition, public opinion plays a key role in government spending decisions, and one of the most effective ways to influence public opinion is through the media. A single appearance on television, for example, gets your message across to tens of thousand of people - far more than you could possibly reach in years of public lectures.