Achieve Your Goals with Toastmasters

In this video, Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) Lois Margolin shares an original story about achieving your goals as a Toastmaster.

Indeed, this story reflects the experience that many Toastmasters have throughout their self-improvement journey. Learn more about how Toastmasters can help you achieve your goals by visiting the Guests section of our Club Awesome website.

10 Tips for Impromptu Speaking

At Club Awesome Toastmasters, we thoroughly enjoy impromptu speaking opportunities. Table Topics is the Toastmasters format for impromptu speaking, which entails giving a 1 to 2 minute speech immediately after being presented with a topic.

In the July edition of Toastmaster magazine, Christopher Cox shares 10 tips for presenting Table Topics:

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Buy time.
  3. Go with the first idea that comes to mind.
  4. Express an opinion from the start.
  5. Structure your speech into 3 main points.
  6. To develop your argument, ask who, what, why, where, when, and how.
  7. Know when to stop.
  8. Prepare in advance.
  9. Leverage your own experiences.
  10. Be eccentric.

For additional details, and special tip number 11, be sure to see the full article: 10 Tips for Terrific Table Topics [1].

Club Awesome members regularly practice impromptu speaking skills over a meal during our Table Topics Breakfast and Dinner sessions, which occur monthly.

Our next Table Topics Breakfast will take place on July 21, 2017 in Coral Springs, FL, just after our regular meeting. Guests are welcome to join us for the meeting and breakfast. Contact us for more details.

[1] Cox, C. (2017, July). 10 tips for terrific table topics. Toastmaster, 21. https://www.toastmasters.org/magazine/magazine-issues/2017/july2017/tabletopics

What Makes a Story Humorous?

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“Don’t Tell the Truth!”

A few months ago, I spoke to the Club Awesome Toastmasters about a technique for adding humor to stories. The speech was titled “Don’t Tell the Truth!” and the basic concept was to take a normal situation and put an unexpected spin on it to make it funny. My evaluator, David Carr, wondered how I came up with this advice. Was it just personal experience or had I referenced an authoritative source on the subject?

In this case, I relied upon what feels like my natural sense of humor and didn’t seek any external validation. However, as someone who enjoys and employs humor, David’s question got me thinking. Indeed, I started crafting this speech with much loftier aims. However, upon realizing how vague and complex the job of dissecting humor is, I decided to share just a small, practical piece. For the bigger picture, perhaps I should seek a deeper understanding of humor’s finer points as analyzed by those who have come before me.

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Max Eastman

Surprisingly, this pursuit led me to a book nearly 100 years old. In the 1930s, Max Eastman published an extensive analysis of humor in Enjoyment of Laughter (ISBN: 9781412808446). This work covers humor from many angles. It is filled with examples demonstrating that humor has likely been used effectively in, and been of psychological interest to, America for as long as it has existed.

The foundation of Eastman’s argument is that humor is an emotion which we can only experience when we are in a playful mood. Under these conditions, humor arises when our expectations are defied: we think we are headed towards a specific destination, not only to find that we didn’t arrive there, but better yet, that we arrived in an entirely different place.

For instance, this process takes place when we imagine a well-groomed anchor in a fancy suit sharing an urgent news report. After signing off to the camera, the anchor stands up from behind the desk to reveal nothing but casual shorts are worn below the waist. Further, the camera zooms out to show us that the city skyline in the background is just a small painting. The anchor steps back onto the beach and is handed a coconut with a straw in it.

If you didn’t find that last paragraph humorous, have no fear. Eastman would be the first to tell you that analyzing a joke is a certain way to ensure that all humor will be removed from it. For many more details and analyses, Enjoyment of Laughter (ISBN: 9781412808446) is an excellent historical resource that can make us more aware of the techniques we apply as authors and orators of humor. Think about defying expectations in a playful manner the next time you want to share a humorous story with your audience.

Awesome Table Topics Improv: Twin Brothers on a Plane

Thanks to Club Awesome Topicsmaster Liza Davis for a rousing Table Topics session today that involved paired improvisational speaking (improv) activities. One of the activities involved Lorenzo White and Marc Samet acting as twin brothers on a plane with an obnoxious sleeping passenger in the middle seat between them.

Here we see Lorenzo leaning around the passenger to have a word with his brother.

As the brothers negotiated potential ways to get out of their uncomfortable flying situation, the conversation got a bit personal. Here, Lorenzo makes a jab about Marc’s activities the night before while the two were out vacationing together.

 

Back on May 20, 2017, members from Club Awesome and District 47 (South Florida and the Bahamas) attended our first Connect and Grow Speakers Workshop. During the event, professional comedian Casey Casperson engaged the group in learning about and practicing improvisational speaking skills. It’s awesome to see these skills put to the test as part of our weekly Table Topics session.

Video: Give a Speech, Get an Evaluation

Evaluations are at the heart of the Toastmasters experience, giving members immediate feedback on what they have done well and where they can improve.

Randy Ostreich’s speech, “International Travel, Carry-On Style,” was project #7 in the Competent Communication manual, Research your Topic. This video an example of a Toastmaster who is gaining experience, but still developing skills, getting an evaluation from a very experienced Toastmasters, Lois Margolin, DTM.