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[Review] #701# Humor 2017-12-19

(The meeting review was written by Kathy Wang)

1. Why talking about humor?

Humor is a considerable element for wonderful public speeches. It not only simply brings laughter to the audience, but also special perspectives to see the world. For toastmasters, learning, discussing and practicing skills of using humor consciously is necessary. More than a skill, humor is as well a valuable life attitude. It is just like a mirror reflecting each speaker’s optimism, courage, power and more deep insights. In style, public speech may be entertaining, but the core strength is always “influence” by authentic information, logical inference and positive attitude. Humor, integrated wisely, will make speeches more comprehensible and impressive.

 2. Special Sharing: Natural Body Language — Chloe Xu

A passionate headhunter and toastmaster as ACB/ALB, was invited to stand on the stage of PSTMC again. This time she talked about natural body language, especially for women toastmasters. It has nothing to do with gender equality but the female speakers’ characteristics. Based on coaching some female speech contestants, Chloe sum up the objective features of women speakers such as height, volume, personality and dressing, etc. She even mentioned the detail about the potential influence between high-heel shoes and stage movement. Her frank and humorous opening convinced the audience to listen to her tips carefully.

2.1 Eye contact.

Chloe observed that many speakers tend to face some audience. Maybe it is subconsciously or looking at acquaintances can be comfortable. Her tip is moving eye contact along “Z” or “N” course to cover the whole room. In order to make the personal eye communication more natural, she shared her experience to practice speech in front of mirror. Keep focusing on yourself and rehearsal the full script.

2.2 Stage movement.

Chloe didn’t think it is good for women speakers trying to use the whole large stage. She thought two-step movement is enough. Move to another area until having finished a story or a topic. When showing a dialogue, keeping feet still but designing identifiable postures for each character is better than turning body mechanically. She also reminded that smiling while appearing at the stage is important to make a good first impression. Stick for 1-2 seconds and then step forward to begin speech.

2.3 Facial expression.

Chloe invited three listeners to imitate some emojies and felt facial expression. She encouraged speakers to get rid of the idol burden. Taking selfie of various close-up and self-practicing in mirror are both good ways to make facial expression natural.

All in all, Chloe emphasized that avoiding stiffness and affectation is the priority. Behind each successful speaker, it is the meticulous design and repeated rehearsals that pave the smooth and natural body language.

 

3. Table Topic Session

Focusing on the meeting theme of “humor”, five toastmaster members and guests grabbed the opportunities to deliver interesting impromptu speeches.

    Wendy drew the slot to introduce someone who really has sense of humor in her life. She shared some warm stories about her father. As a humorous person, her father often created games such as role-play while entering a gate, and imitating her English pronunciation even knowing nothing about English. All these brought laughter to Wendy’s childhood, encouraged her to study hard, and cultivated her to be positive person. Actually, Wendy learned from her humorous father that humor is not a joke but seeking happiness together in daily life.

    Yolanda was asked to rate herself of humor sense on scale of 1-10. She frankly said that she only gave herself 2-3 points. She thought humorous person should good at finding something interesting and expressing them in a humorous way. But for her, even trying to share some funny things, she couldn’t help laughing to tears before telling a single word. As for a listener, she said that she really lacked humor sense. When people shared a humor story, she always asked “Why” and “How” questions to finally frustrate the joke tellers. At last, Yolanda named herself “Humor killer”, but this humorous nickname brought down the house humorously.

    Jewel raised up hand eagerly to take the third CC chance. The question to her was a little bit serious. “Beside laughter, what else do you think humor can bring to us?” Jewel agreed that laughter might be the first keyword for most people while talking about humor. However, in her brainstorm, “atmosphere” and “warm hearted” were included. She also shared the communication between her and the Champion of humor speech at Nanjing Conference. She got the sparkling point that self-mockery was also very important. It was not about laughter but being openness. A good speaker should open heart and arms, and to connect people more actively.

    Different from the previous three interview style questions, Steven and Jeff faced more challenges in CC session. They first drew lots to select a character and a gift, and then were asked to do a role-play respectively. They must try adding some humor sense while showing the role-play.

    For Steven, he needed to send a lipstick to his father as the Christmas gift. As a CC veteran, Steven immediately created the story of a lipstick to father but actually a father-to-mother gift. He wisely added humorous shining points in the story. For example, the father wanted to blame the ridiculous gift but was blamed by the son for never sending a gift to mother; the father thought mother should be happy for the brand-name lipstick but was rebuked by mother for being extravagant. The mother was even suspicious that how her husband could afford the lipstick by his limited pocket money.

    For Jeff, his problem was more challenging because he had to send a credit card as a gift to his ex-girlfriend. Jeff’s script seemed to be not dramatic. He just wanted to release the ex-girlfriend’s financial burden to buy an apartment. However, Jeff used some cold humor sense in tone and facial expression. This brought the audience understanding laugh because they all could feel the boy still loved the girl deeply.

4. Prepared Speech

    Mandi discussed a tough, seemingly insoluble but very meaningful a topic. It was about gender equality. She shared true stories about her childhood and romantic relationship. She led the audience into three very typical examples: choosing toys for kids by genders, views on women reproductive behavior, and gender responsibility on buying a property. She analyzed the gender stereotypes from two sides objectively. Her empathy both for men and women resonated with the audience and raised much laughter. Mandi expressed her expectation for true gender equality on emotion, opportunities and rights.

  Ashlee praised Mandi to have caused at least six times big laughter in audience because of her humorous sharing. She commended three shining points of the speech. Well-selected topic related to the meeting theme, clear and powerful parallel sentences, and natural body languages. She suggested that Mandi could have tried discussed some insights on “How” questions. It would be helpful to inspire actions to realize true equality both in individual and social levels.

    Zero posed an interesting but profound question. Can nature be changed? She shared two stories. One is “Venus and the cat” from Aesop’s Fables, the other is the classic Chinese folklore of “Legend of white snake”. The two stories are generated from western and oriental culture respectively, with similar beginnings but different endings. They are both romantic story between animal and man. They were both about the amazing magic power. However, the endings were disparate because the cat could still see the mouse but the snake had already devoted to love with heart and soul. Zero’s answer to the question was that it depends on the definition of love. True love doesn’t simply means marriage, and it means giving self to others. With true love, nothing is impossible, including deep-rooted nature.

    Landy applauded Zero’s speech with three keywords: interesting, creative and insightful. The good points included confident movements while narrating different stories, appropriate eye contact to cover the whole room, and clear key messages such as specific definition of true love and core force to change natural instincts. Landy suggested Zero could pay attention to facial expression. It would make the characters more vivid and build better connection with audience.

    Donica opened speech by her husband’s two news. While being satisfied with his career promotion, she didn’t take his decision to learn driving seriously. In her eyes, her darling was just a giant of words. But to her surprise, this time, her husband really went to the driving school formally and told her “Don’t Think Too Much. Just do it”. Another inspiration was from her colleague. When Donica was almost unbearable about the endless mistakes of the co-worker, the frank lady just said that her principle was “Don’t Think Too Much. Just do it. I’ll correct and make progress”. Encouraged by their DTTM, Donica overcame her perfectionism and came back to P9 actively. Focusing on P9 objective, she sincerely persuaded the audience to improve by doing, and always remember that success is built on mistakes.

    Joan appreciated Donica’s opening story. The vivid daily life episode grabbed audience’s attention successfully. She was also sure that Donica had reached the P9 objective because of the well-designed DTTM. It was clear, short, and easy to be repeatable. However, she suggested two points. First, comparing with unveiling at the end, maybe it’s better to explain DTTM first and then date back to the two stories. Second, regarding DTTM, if giving some opposite examples, it will be more powerful to advocate being an active doer.

   Steven made his efforts to inspire audience to identify and get out of comfort zone.  He shared three experiences of his own. The first was about changing the bad habit of sleeping in and being late to work. The second was how he confronted the fear of delivering impromptu speech. The third was his decision not to repeat the topic of his “tiger wife” any more. He used dramatic body language and varied tones to present the embarrassment before his boss, the conflict with his subordinate, and the hesitation to raise up for CC. Based on introspection and actions to step out of different comfort zones, Steven called for the audience to stimulate comfort zone, to keep commitments, and set up specific objectives.

    Rocky kicked off his evaluation in a humorous way. As old friend, he praised Steven had successfully convinced him to step out of comfort zone to be Steven’s IE again. First, he highly appreciated Steven’s personal zealous style. It can always uplift the atmosphere and affect audience. Second, the opening of imitating alarm sound attracted people immediately. However, Rocky thought that three stories were a bit too much. He suggested to narrow down the materials or try linking the stories by reasonable logic. He also reminded Steven of never losing eye contact, especially not giving his whole back to audience. When Rocky repeated the keywords of zealous, opening, narrow down, and eye contact, he got big applause because the acronym of ZONE was presented on the white board clearly.

5. Awards

Impressive prepared speaker: Steven Shen

Best TT speaker: Wendy Ma

Best evaluator: Rocky Shen

Best role taker: Alice Chen