How To Make A Public-Speaking Engagement Memorable: An Anecdote From Marlys Fox

Mar 27, 2024

Public speaking is a tricky art. You have to be persuasive, compelling, energetic, informative. But unless you’re a comedian or an actor, you have to tread carefully to avoid wildly over-emoting or telling jokes that bomb.
Perhaps the most important element is engagement—getting the audience’s attention and then keeping it, making the audience a participant, not just a group of passive listeners.
This comes down to preparation. Plan what you’re going to say, think about what the audience wants to hear, practice in advance. None of this means you should avoid humor. On the contrary, the communications consultant Marjorie North said in a 2020 article published by the Harvard Division of Continuing Education, letting your own personality shine through helps an audience see you as a person, not a random talking head. Sometimes that includes anecdotes. Other times, it’s letting your sense of humor be a feature.
This is one approach favored by Fox Associates Founder and CEO Marlys Fox, who recently shared an anecdote about a technique she used at one of her own speaking engagements.

Marlys Fox.

“I was to deliver a presentation to a group of Fox customers and allies,” Marlys tells us. “In the audience were all the Fox team as well. We decided to ramp it up a bit to make my speech a little more memorable.”

The speech opened with a scripted greeting: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears!”
“At that point a dozen foxes sprinkled throughout the audience stood up and threw at me what we had purchased ahead of time: Plastic,  memorable, and quite authentic looking ears! I ducked and pretended to be startled. The audience howled. And my presentation took on a whole new dimension,” Marlys said.