An Experience of Connection

If you have seen it, Sunday evening I uploaded the above picture on my Facebook timeline and left it with a note “Out to read now. Catch up later! ūüėČ“. Then I went to the Main River and found a cozy cafe to enjoy a glass of Baileys and read my Toastmasters magazine‘s June edition.

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Just like the May edition, the June edition was full of good stuff, and there were many great articles and tips for creating a strong¬†connection with one’s audience as a speaker. I especially liked the connections achieved through humor. So let me focus on that and try to show¬†you what I saw through my eyes.

The first article that touched upon audience connection was the one of Katherine Scott, a professional singer turned voice coach. And here is her story:

“As a singer I’d sung some wonderful repertoire, but when I started to write and sing my own songs I began to understand what it means to have a deep connection with an audience. Toastmasters opened up another opportunity for me to use my voice through professional speaking. My goal in working with clients is to help them intentionally create an experience of connection, every time, with their audience.

And you know what? She says that she’s not going to stop at creating connection with a physical audience only, but she plans to go beyond that. And here is how:

“Everything I learn in Toastmasters is essential for achieving another one of my goals–to be skilled at doing online videos and podcasting. Learning better communication skills for the Internet will allow me to support more change agents to connect with their own particular audience.

By the way, that is also one of my goals!

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And because she had that and many other good things to say, I put a heart-animation2 next to all the juicy parts of her speech. Do you like it? 1

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Then there was the story of Julie Kertesz, a 82-year old lady, who at 77 stepped out of her comfort zone and became a stand-up comedian.

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And this is her story:

“Sporting short white hair and well-earned wrinkles, Kertesz admists she may give off a “grandma” vibe when strolling onto a stage at the comedy clubs. But audiences learn quickly not to judge her by appearance alone. Her stand-up act includes allusive jokes about her love life and some self-depreciating humor about her age, with four-letter words sprinked in, despite her daughter’s advice. Kertesz says, “I believed for so long that I was not funny. But we develop, with time, a ‘comedian’s eyes,’ looking at all our problems and learning how to present them so others will laugh with us.”

Kertesz now incorporates elements of what she has learned onstage back at her Toastmasters clubs and has the following tip for us: “Speaking from the inside connects us to any audience. I learned to connect with a young audience as a stand-up comedian and with a middle-aged crowd as a personal storyteller.”

Besides public speaking, Kertesz has many other passions such as photography, blogging and storytelling. To look at her Flickr-famous photos, click here. To check out her public speaking blog, click here. To listen to her personal stories, click here.

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Continuing on the connecting through humor topic, in the above section called “Comedy Connection“, four professionally-funny Toastmasters offered their tips and ticks. And here are my favourite tips and tricks¬†from each Toastmaster:

Owen Lean, London: The best way to gather an audience for a street show is to create a happy, relaxed energy at the start. So I might tell jokes and use silly humor as people approach me.

Sarah Carothers, Houston, Texas:¬†You just have to be sincere with your audience and they’ll usually embrace you in the end.

Palmo Carpino, Calgary, Alberta:¬†With any event, humor is absolutely the best way to get people on my side. If they are with me, they will stay with me–stay on time, stay in the room. Whether I’m presenting or hosting an event, I make it a point to meet with audience members prior to the event. I look for those friendly faces from the stage. Creating a sense of familiarity–all of us laughing at the same thing–really helps with staying in control of the event.

Raajeev Aggarwal, Burbank, California:¬†Self-depreciating humor generally works best. Because humor is challenging and can easily upset people, I prefer that safer variety. I like to use myself as the victim so I am the one who looks stupid and not the audience. As an extension of that, I also make fun of my family…. I try to use comedy that relieves people of their misery. You are putting yourself down so that everyone in the room feels better about themselves.

By the way, from the two Toastmasters magazines I have read so far, I see that these¬†magazines¬†make for a great source of rich vocabulary. In this June edition, my favourite new word was “Camaraderie“, meaning “a feeling of friendliness towards people that you work or¬†share an experience with.” Lately, I have been having a unique friendship/experience with my Facebook fan-friends and this new word summarized the whole thing into one simple word. So good¬†to know it!¬†

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Finally, there was the story of¬†Peter Kossowan, a Distinguished Toastmaster, who has sponsored 164 Toastmasters clubs’ establishment and the article said that he¬†uses his sales-closing techniques to launch new clubs. The specific technique that he uses at the end of a demo meeting is to ask “If there are no other questions, I have a question for you. Will you complete the membership application and leave it with us today?” And his simple question works!

Furthermore,¬†Peter encourages other Toastmasters to sponsor new clubs and has the following word for us:¬†“Chartering a club is incredibly rewarding–it brings the greatness of Toastmasters to a world that desperately needs strong leaders and communicators. You are qualified to start a club, and you are up to the task!”

And hearing that pearl of wisdom,¬†I thought to myself, If he can establish 164 clubs, I can easily establish ONE!”¬†

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Feel good! 

Bella

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