Would you like a simple speech technique that will create a closer connection with your audience, help them remember your material, and possibly get a laugh?
Try using the “call-back.”
The call-back is a stand-up comedy term that means to refer to an earlier joke that got a laugh.
For example, at a recent Humor Mill Toastmasters meeting, Dennis Carney, a local stand-up comedian, had a piece about performing in Las Vegas. He talked about how exciting it was to see his name on billboards and on the side of every fifth or sixth cab that went by. “Of course, it wasn’t my real name. It was my stage name: Prime Rib $9.95.” That punch line, which he delivered better than I am describing, got a good laugh. Later, he told another story about being in Las Vegas, and having a cop knock on his door. When he answered the door, the cop addressed him as “Mr. Rib.” That call-back to the previous joke got another laugh.
A call-back in a speech does not have to refer back to something funny in order to be an effective call-back. It does need to refer back to something that will connect emotionally with the audience. You can call-back to a previous story in your own presentation or to something that occurred previously at an event (something that happened or something that another speaker said that created an emotional experience).
The call-back can be an effective closing summary technique if you have structured your speech with a story for each main point. In closing, you can refer briefly to the story and connect that with the story’s point. For example, in one speech, I have a story about how difficult my mother was when she was ill, but how I learned to “listen from my heart” as she lay dying. At the end of the speech, I call-back to that story: “From my mother I learned to listen from my heart.”
Using the call-back to refer to something that happened or what someone said prior to your speech creates a connection with your audience because that comment is unique for them and shows you were paying attention. (Tip for Toastmasters: this can be a very effective Table Topics technique).
Pay attention for moments that you can call-back to connect with your audience!