The most popular tale: The very old woman and the death

From my YouTube videos, this diaporama is the most popular, where mostly the voice is important, and of course the tale, photos by me - the sculptures by my late wonderful wise friend, Stephanie.

"The old woman and the death" Hungarian folktale was translated and adapted by me, with around 750 having listened and looked to it so far on YouTube.

Enjoy, for the end of year, and may have a similar adventure... and persistence.

Once, upon the time, in a far away country...


From there to here, a story evolves

 I begun to tell the story of how I changed profession late in life, 3 year ago, in the middle of the recession when too many were afraid to loose their job and find something new.

Each time, perhaps the "most important thing" can be not the same, for the same events, other parts of it came out. I begun speaking at that time of my life and relating how a book Hidden Identity, (with it's Hedonistic approach) helped me to find out what were my strongest points and what I really liked.

 In 2011 November, I told it at the Canal Cafe Theatre. The theme of the evening organized by Spark London, was "Mistaken identity", Spark published my tale with the title:

The possibilities are endless.

Observation: "cave" in French is "cellar" in English but I have mistaken it that day, my daughter lived in some kind of basement... not a real "cave" an old vine cellar in the middle of a garden. But it was really a trap door (with window on it) that was the only entrance and gave the only natural light.

But, my error just brought up more laughter from the audience...

And at the end of the evening, a young woman came to me, telling me how much my message meant to her, it was the encouragment she needed at that point of her life.

It changed, evolved, and I think, the change itself is interesting.

That was not the first time, it was perhaps the third time, as delivered it almost a year before in one of my Toastmasters club.

That story is very dear to me also as it was the first time I got so many laughter and someone told me "You are a natural" go learn standup comedy. Standup? What is that? The rest is history...

From this on, I told the story two more time correcting cave and changing a little, as I do not learn word by word. Now, I got a new view and assessment to that story and will try to tell it next week, with a new focus: Yes! I will do it. More, when I have done it.


9 recommended books (and others) from my bookshelf

Public speaking is telling stories, using humour, presenting them all together. And conveying an old wisdom in a new way. Here a few of my favourites I studied and read again and again, Each time discovering new nuggets and understanding deeper.

1st where all starts :
The Power of Personal Storytelling, Jack Maguire
Why, how to find, how to shape, how to remember the story parts, embed it in yourself.
- the speaking champion Malachi studied it before going all the way up to Las Vegas
- the renewed education Ambassador and well known workshop leader is studying it now too

2nd, Improving your storytelling, Doug Lipman
About finding "MIT": The Most Important Thing. Explains a lot also of our links between the audience, the story and the teller and relative, different the importance at each telling. Also the different kind of audiences and evenings; the joy of reaching each time the "one" who does needed it.

from my Books for Public Speaking3 th Wired for story, Lisa Cron,
Explains, what we expect from stories. How to hook the reader, delving deeper in "why" we are expecting, why it is important to go deep. Not easy to reach all the goals the book talks abut, but explained clearly what we are "wired for", need from a story.

4rd speak like Churchill, stand like Linkoln by James C. Humes
Secrets of history's great speakers. Easy to read, great "power technique"s. First chapter for example is  "The Power of Pause" that I learned to apply and it does give great results.

5th the Story Factor by Annette Simmons,
Influence and persuade at work through the art of storytelling in the enterprise and workplace. Why, how and what kind of stories to give in companies.

6. Be a great standup, by Logan Murray, London. He is also great workshop leader, I did attend three of his workshops. For all budding amateur comedians, the book explains some important basics, with examples of how to develop a "comedian eye".

7. Standup Comedy, the book by Judy Carter, 
First ever book about standup comedy, some great techniques, basics on humour. She has a chapter on the importance of "top the punch", how to use the punch line and add another to it. Very effective!

8. The naked presenter, Garr Reynolds,
Presenting with or without slides, but opening up going deep into your story. Opening yourself to draw the audience into your speech and your point of view.

9. Resonance, Nancy Duarte
Present visual stories that transform the audience.

Another time, I will add three more book to the list. All these books I read and studied and re-read., they all helped me to progress and added to the total. I am still in need to study them again, as at every stage we understand differently.

5 minutes Friday, 7' Sunday, 10' Monday

I am back on the saddle! and yes, it still works.

Still can make audience laugh, long strong often.

Friday, at the Comedy workshop, not only I "killed" (made Toastmasters laugh) but after the event, in the pause, many come to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

Sunday, I proved to myself that I am no more intimidated by video, and volunteered to give a 7 minutes speech on-line to Toastmasters listening, looking from all over the world. Yes, they laughed from Australia all the way to an island near Vancouver, Canada! Philippines, Japan, South Africa... I did use the project 6 from the Competent Communication manual, Voice Variety, with the title "we all have funny bones". Carole, our VPE from Australia was the Toastmaster at that meeting and said "I have to recover from laughter" and my performance was evaluated by Brian from Vancouver.

Untitled Monday, I was given 10 minutes in a London Standup Comedy Club located now at Horse and Stable. Yes! I could go up the stairs. Then, give my old material combined with some new.

Wonderful audience response: long, strong, many laughs and even applauses. For the first time, since I gig, an audience member asked me after my performance to take a photo with him (he was there with his wife also to gig). Well, I was impressed.

Here is Chris from my Toastmasters club and his pal, also posing with me in the pause. He is also a Standup Comedian, and also a Meetup leader, he come to "show my gig to her" and to encourage my comeback.

Still have to work on my skill, remember better some of the lines, find where to add the new material I found, but I am back on the saddle, ready to roll again after a whole year. These three performances remembered me why I do it, the joy of audience response and the message that is under my appearance.

And, I already have aligned three others!


Gig at Comedy School (back to perform after 3 years) as special guest

November 2013 or 12? after a refreshment workshop with the Comedy School.

I opened the show, alas I was allowed only seven minutes from ten prepared. But of course, one has to adapt each time.

This year I had my ten minutes at "Old folks jokes" but I do not have yet its video recording. And now, 10' also opening at Ivor Dembina's 'you should have listened to Ivor'. Went very well, made those present laugh a lot.

New tips to look for when you look at it the second time.

Listen to how I begin.
First recognising what everyone can see: I am old. (Later, then I am not English, but Hungarian.) It is good to recognise what they see and hear, then of course comes the surprises.

In my case proving that we old are "open minded" surprising those listening with 4 letter words.
Finally, toping by telling the tale about my daughter and she "not being there". That connects to all.

"Toping" is adding to a punch line without necessity to introduce, it also give it a more impromptu feeling. Like you just invented it, now for this audience. I top even more at the end.

Be aware that nor in Comedy or in Storytelling do you have to stick to the exact truth about time, names, durations, for example. It is very important to be "in the moment" - so my daughter really called me - but it was more then a year before, so what? I told it first the day it happened.

It is not important when other then make it seem more "fresh".

I still tell from time to time "I am 77" and it seems sexier year, easier to remember then 78 or 79.

Observe how I finish.
I segue with what come before, "I am a bit out of practice now, but" and 'top" again then give my most outrageous sentence. It work very well every time. But then, I do not stop but top it and top it, usually getting big laughs after laughs for the end. It is best to leave your best working part to the end, your second best at the beginning.

Note, that I found the sentence after six hours of workshop at Camden with Ivor Dembina, who probed deep into what is we do not tell usually because "that is what the audience is interested is enjoying best".  I hesitated for three month until I first tried it out. It does work each time.

Added to the routine (and make it grow with new frustrations)
There are some added parts that come the first here, from frustrations I got recently, just a little before I performed this, November 2012, of my teeth.

I also added the routine about my eyes (is it in this yet?) Later, I found a better way to introduce my Kindle (not in this performance yet). It does get a huge laughter as I talk about "size is import - sometimes" and let the audience think first of something else, as just before it I added a part that is about a message I got on Facebook. (see my later gigs for that).

Observe how I go from one part to the other.
Just before I performed I was told that I have to do only 7 minutes not 10 as I was promised. I had to cut some parts. Because the routine has been made in Parts, I could leave out some. But is is more difficult then as usually I put a word at the end of a routine to trigger in me and remind the next part.

All audience is not as receptive as this was. Sometimes parts go better or less depending whom listens.


"If you ain’t funny, you better get funny!" Workshop & Standup Show

"If you ain’t funny, you better get funny!" Workshop

Humour is one of the greatest assets a speaker can have, and most professional speakers will tell you “if you ain’t funny, you better get funny”. But if you ain’t funny, don’t worry, because the ability to make an audience laugh is a learnt skill.
On Friday 26 JuneWe have a session from professional stand-up Daphna Baram then David Jones will present workshops on how to use humour in your public speaking. David performs stand-up comedy and runs stand-up comedy courses, and is the five-time UK & Ireland Table Topics champion. He was my workshop leader in 2011 and through me out on the circuit "at least 20" he told me! I've done more then 77 now.
Come and learn from London’s most experienced Toastmasters.
After the workshops there will be a comedy show, starring Toastmasters who have been performing stand-up on the London circuit.

Chris Boden and I will be the MCs for the show. The running order (there will be no break in the show):
Caterina Kostoula
Gary Ogin
Tony Winyard
Karthik Venugopal
Monica Liljeroth
Warren Sheng
Julie Kertesz
Mark Pratt
Justine Bornstein
Where: Concert Artistes' Association, 20 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HP
When: 7:00 PM -- Arrive 7:30 PM -- Workshops. 
9:00 PM -- Stand-up show. 10:30 PM -- Show ends.
Not only promised to be a fantastic evening, it was indeed.  
From Lyn Roseaman, Area 45 Governor


Fill the well, refresh the soul

Monday in Riga, first photos in an album on flickr.

In Artist's Way, Judith Cameron says, we have to do "morning pages" to take out whatever is heavy to us and also get new inspiration by doing weekly "fill the well" diverse outings and discoveries.

I am not travelling week by week, but once or twice a year, I like to go out for a week and discover a new country, city, place.

This week, I am in Riga. With my stick, yes, need it in the centre's "only walking" cobblestones, alone - not alone, with my camera. And now, even my iPhone camera.

Lots to discover, lots to absorb, new inspiration to find.

Whatever creation we do, from time to time, getting new horizons, seeing new places, colours, people, we need to refill!


"When I was ten the war caught up with me" performed Manchester Town hall

"True Stories with Grant Whisky" at Manchester Town hall with 400/500 audience and two big screens showing the performance so all can see it well.

It was from the beginning a decision to tell this story from the eyes of a ten years old me, and do not relate how I see it now with knowledge not even from what I learned a year later.

Another big decision was to add to it a part about "now" and link it with "holding hands" with the past: that leaves all with a warm feeling and also a non told but important second message.
I changed the publication date in memory of 70 years commemoration of survivors.
Asking Advice
Toastmasters to whom I told this story in my different clubs (it was each time from a project Manual speech), and asked advice, all gave me very useful advices.

Where should I stretch to hold the suspense longer, where should I change my face and make more pause, for example. Joanna Yates, producer of Spark London, helped me a lot to shorten and cut from my long initial beginning where I talked, for this story at least, a lot more of my cousin.

Telling it some other time, perhaps I could add back as different blocks can be taken out usually and added depending of the circumstances. But this story I told so many times that I learned it as is, and last year as I went to give a keynote in AYR, West of Scotland, I met two young women on the train and told them the story. It went so easy and they were fascinated.


Story telling workshop : "the first time I..."

Tell each other one of many "The first time I..."
So many first times we have.

The first times are scary.
The first times are joy.
The first times are funny.

We have many interesting first time to reveal to each other and at the same time we forget to fear to speak in public and show some from ourselves. My experience tells me that either prepared in advance, or challenged add hoc, that makes a great experience.

And, at the end, each is convinced: personal stories work!