Welcome to Presenting the Community: A Year-Long Celebration of District 47 Toastmasters

Over the summer of 2017, I set out on a mission to help spread the word about Toastmasters throughout South Florida and The Bahamas.

Presenting the Community is a High Performance Leadership (HPL) project designed to engage existing Toastmasters in District 47 and attract new people to our clubs by sharing our speaking expertise and personal experiences.

This journey took me to several training events across South Florida and put me in touch with numerous Toastmasters from District 47. I met with a broad spectrum of people, including brand new members, people starting up corporate clubs for the first time, members with decades of experience, club officers, and district directors.

I am grateful to those 38 members who shared their speaking expertise and personal experiences on video. The 50+ videos they helped to create represent 30+ clubs, which is about 20% of all clubs from District 47.

The project officially kicks off on Friday, December 8, 2017. In total, over 50 videos are scheduled to be released on a weekly basis. You can follow along with the entire series on YouTube. In the meantime, learn more about the project, see some sneak previews, and consider how you can contribute with this welcome video.

In addition, I appreciate the support of my committee, which includes Lydia Harris, Lois Margolin, and David Carr.  Furthermore, you’ll see Zarraz Quick helping to spread the word about this project on social media as the project’s Online Marketing Director.

As you see videos posted to the official YouTube playlist, Club Awesome blog, District 47 Facebook pages, and other social media, please share them through your personal networks as well. By doing so, we are amplify the Toastmasters message to those potential members all around us who we warmly welcome to visit our clubs.

Lastly, I hope you’ll be inspired to put together videos to share your own experiences and advertise your clubs. If you do so, get in touch with me, so I can help you share them online.

Visit http://johnmquick.com/hpl and connect with John M. Quick to learn more about Presenting the Community.

Presenting the Community is a High Performance Leadership (HPL) project by John M. Quick. Toastmasters International and all other Toastmasters International trademarks and copyrights are the sole property of Toastmasters International. The content of this project is the opinion of the creator and is independent of Toastmasters International. It is not authorized by, endorsed by, sponsored by, affiliated with, or otherwise approved by Toastmasters International.

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.