Presenting the Community: Jef Otten on Using Humor

In this week’s Presenting the Community video, Jef Otten shares the trick behind using humor in your presentations.

To learn more about Presenting the Communityvisit the project webpage and connect with John M. Quick.

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.

Awesome Scenes from the District 47 Fall Conference 2017

Club Awesome was well-represented at this year’s District 47 fall conference. Here are a few photos from a jam-packed Saturday that featured contests, workshops, meetings, and more.

All eyes were on Marilyn Brown as she competed in the finals of the humorous speech contest.

Here’s Marilyn posing with her third-place trophy alongside the other contestants.

Finally, my personal favorite shot of the weekend came when several of our members gathered together. Fortunately for the cameras, this photo opportunity took place in the scenic, well-lit lobby of the conference venue.

The occasion for the gathering was to further congratulate Marilyn on her Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) designation, the highest award earned through the Toastmasters education program.

It was an Awesome weekend for our club. We are already looking forward to the spring conference in 2018. In the meantime, come join the fun in our weekly meetings.

Marilyn Brown to Compete in Humor Contest Finals at District 47 Conference

Club Awesome Toastmasters is proud to be represented by Marilyn Brown in the 2017 humorous speech contest finals.

On her journey to the finals, Marilyn has competed alongside top humorists at the club, area, and division levels. She placed first in each of three contest to date.

In the finals, Marilyn will be up against the very best speakers from District 47, which spans South Florida and The Bahamas.

Marilyn will perform on Saturday, November 18, during the District 47 fall conference. We will be cheering her on to take home the championship. If you haven’t seen Marilyn before, know that you are in store for witty and gritty entertainment. You also might learn a thing or two about getting old. Here’s a hint: it “ain’t for sissies.”

District 47 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017 Announced

The District 47 Toastmasters Fall Conference 2017 details have been announced.

Our own Marilyn Brown will compete for the District 47 championship in the humorous speech contest.

In addition, several Club Awesome members will be in attendance this year. We look forward to learning, networking, and enjoying the entertainment along with you.

  • Dates: Friday, November 17 – Sunday, November 19
    • Friday: Early registration and welcome reception in the evening
    • Saturday: Main conference
      • Breakfast, lunch, and dinner served
      • Keynote speeches by Darren LaCroix, 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking
      • District humorous speech and evaluation contest finals
      • Professional development workshop sessions
    • Sunday: Breakfast with Darren LaCroix (for VIP ticket holders)
  • Early registration ends November 6. Purchase tickets online.
  • A special hotel rate is available at the DoubleTree, where the conference takes place, through November 6. Book your room online.
  • For additional details on the conference, see the District 47 website.

Area 20/21 Humor & Evaluation Contests October 14, 2017

Come see Club Awesome’s Marilyn Brown (humor) and Brian Mikosz (evaluation) compete with the club contest winners from Areas 20 and 21 on Saturday, October 14, 2017. It will be an opportunity to see excellent humorous presentations and evaluations, as well as support the Toastmasters community.

  • Event: Area 20/21 Humor & Evaluation Contests
  • Date: Saturday, October 14, 2017
  • Time: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Place: Keiser University, Fort Lauderdale Campus, 1500 NW 49th Street, 5th Floor Auditorium, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

Outbreak! Take Shelter in the IceDen

Toastmasters Warning: An outbreak has taken over Coral Springs, FL. We have confirmed that our old meeting location in the Keller Williams building has been affected. It is no longer safe for any Club Awesome members to visit this location. Fortunately, the outbreak started sometime after our final meeting on July 28, 2017. To date, no members have been afflicted.

Avoid our old meeting location!

What We Know: Little is known about the outbreak at this time. Spectators have described the afflicted as lurching around in apparent confusion, banging on doors and windows, and gently weeping along the curbside.

Action Plan: We have relocated our meeting location indefinitely. From August 4, 2017 until further notice, make sure that you attend Club Awesome meetings at our new location: Florida Panthers IceDen, 3299 Sportsplex Dr, Coral Springs, FL 33065 (Directions). Rumor has it that this is the only place cool enough to prevent the outbreak from spreading. Indeed, it may be one of the last viable meeting locations that remains once all is said and done.

Join us at our new meeting location!

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.