When They Do Not Laugh—What Do You Do?

by John Kinde

The eyes of your audience are fixed on you. You deliver your best new humor line. They stare at you in silence.

It has happened to all of us. It will happen again. What do you do?

The conventional wisdom from experienced professional speakers is valid. Pretend you were serious. Humor, properly delivered, should be a surprise. If you told them a joke was coming (telegraphed your punchline), you probably did it wrong. Delivered properly, since it was a surprise, they didn’t know it was supposed to be funny. So don’t let them know that YOU thought it was funny. The “look of expectation” is what gives you away. It’s that look on your face which begs for a laugh. Begging is not a gesture that connects you with your audience! (more…)

Show Me the Funny!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of studying humor, it’s this. You CAN learn to be funny. Some people think you need to be born funny, the class clown. I’m a laid-back, serious, Norwegian from North Dakota and I’ve won humorous speech contests at the Toastmasters District level four times and three trophies at the Regional level representing the funniest of 10,000 people. If I can do it, you can do it. And if you don’t look funny or have a reputation for being funny…great! You’ll take advantage of the element of surprise, one of the basic elements that makes humor tick.

In this special report I’ll refer to some activities in Toastmasters Clubs that are relevant to both Toastmasters and non-Toastmasters. If you’re not a member, consider checking our a club in your local area. Visit the Toastmasters’ website: http://www.toastmasters.org (more…)

How Long Should An Acceptance Speech Be?

Action star everyman Harrison Ford was honored with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, for “outstanding contribution to the entertainment field”-or more specifically, 35 movies over four decades, including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Witness, The Fugitive, and Patriot Games. He said,
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Capturing Your Audience: (Part I)

Today’s audiences have very short attention spans. They are stimulation junkies with limited interest levels. Their television habits have coined a new term–channel surfing. With the advent of remote control no one watches anything that stands still enough to bore. Click, switch, fast forward, record and mute give them power over the medium. Sub-standard content, boring material or inane commercials are no longer endured. Your audience will forgive you of almost anything except being boring. This is especially true for association executives.
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