On Becoming a Stand-up Comedienne at 77 Years Young

I am not sure if I already have it in my blog?
One of my preferred movies about me, lately
beside that done for Goldsmith University

"do not put yourself into a box"


Mistaken identity?

 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 2010 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.


Doug Lipman workshop at Witty Storytellers P2

A video of his advices to us. Doug is not only a Master Storyteller, but a great coach too.

Long time ago, far away - #Pathways Level 1: Incorporating feedback

Told first time as "Eastern Sunday" in Witty Storytellers the 13th April
Told the second time an improved version (this one) in Firebirds Collective
after using the feedbacks from the first. Both my toastmasters online clubs,
with world wide audience.

Here on the screen, Krishn from Mauritius, me from London, Moses from New Zealand, Fabiola from Caribbean, Lorraine from Dubai. (But many others from different continents were listening even if not on the screen now. From Mexico, from Canada, from USA...

Thanks Brian, Paul, all who suggested improvement the first time!

You all could suggest me further improvements.
I read again my diaries of that time and met a very interesting courageous girl, then woman in love! So much wisdom already! Some of it that she almost forgot with time.

Alex become a year later my husband, and at age 27 we emigrated, had a girl then a boy. Only 20 years later did I get an university diploma, PhD in Chemistry from Paris. I went then to prove myself to DC - but that is yet another story.


Paul White Marching Orders

in Better Said Than Done Storytelling Show
Paul E. White is a distinguished toastmaster and as you can see a master storyteller too


40 years ago I was 40 & First test Spark.Adobe

I will publish here, the different takes, to show how I got through to the end.
Even if there is no "end" as a story told can be modified each time we tell it.

First, I thought that I want to tell to a club near Washington, my arrival there 40 years ago.
Then, I wrote it down in a small carnet. Then I wanted to know how long it would last, here it is.
Not wonderful flow and probably too many facts. Have to take out some and tell it more in scenes.

I published it - even if it was raw - to Facebook friends and asked for comments. What a boon! Here are some of their comments, some giving me hope for the speech other getting in detail of what I could improve. All so helpful.

Annette Flynn Like the way you work towards the positive resolution in each of the phases of adversity.

Paul E. White very interesting from a loss of confidence to refinding your voice and your confidence thanks to Toastmasters... thanks for sharing...

Deirdre Walsh Really enjoyed your story Julie. Full of passion, emotion and real heart. It touched me to the core as toastmasters has done the exact same for me. I've realised at the age of 41 I have a voice and an opinion worth hearing. Tnks for sharing

Debbierose Horoba Julie, your journey is interesting. You are a phoenix rising from the ashes after a negative first marriage. Many members will relate to your story and embrace the spin from a negative to confident positive life.

Here are a lot more detailed from my fellow online club toastmasters :
Ashwani Kumar Sinha Dear Julie, loved your story. I now know you more, and your story of life. It's very courageous of you to boldly share it with us all. You are a seasoned toastmasters, and have used every skill to enhance your speech, and it clearly shows in your body language that you have been doing this for a very very long time. Overall the speech is a perfect material for an icebreaker speech. I do have some minor suggestions for improvement:

1. The story had a rather very choppy transition - eg. Panic & read again, and then automatically you turned at finding a husband, perhaps easing into the topic could make it an optimal flow.  

2. The work - some explanation might help, as to what it was, a brief introduction.

3. Finding a husband - mention was made to find a husband in clubs, perhaps a little more description of that was the norm in those days, could help, and comedic input can be added by comparing and contrasting with today's time - as in there didn't exist tinder or eharmony.

4. The structure was little unclear - perhaps the intro by the Toastmasters can help emphasize that the speech is about your journey so far in life. It's recommended that the speech intro should include 10% of your actual speech.

5. Ending - the ending was weak, perhaps enhancing it with a closing inspiration might serve as a great message for the audience.

I loved your speech, and want to hear more from you as you progress through the pathways program. Best of luck!

Fabiola Cleofa Julie 4 min of captivating story... I just enjoyed it. Voice was low and maybe too relaxed but I grabbed my head phone and that made listening clear in fascination. I had to listen a 2nd time to note some thing to give feedback that would be for a seasoned storyteller like you as of some value. Not to go into repetition I would just refer to Ashwani's points as I had the same observation on point 1 and 4. The intro from the TM (4) will help you prepare the audience. A small blurb of 3/4 sentence explaining your journey and then pay attention to the transitions to tie the next idea to the other (1). Remember the speech outline structure cover 3 to 4 points supported by stories, anecdotes, examples.
Your first words carry a lot: Forty years ago…. I was 47… just finished my PHD. Waw… so much in few words. Very well put together.

Krishn Ramchurn Thank you for sharing part of your life, Julie. You captivated me front the start, and made me want to listen to your entire speech. You have pivotal moments in your speech, and they could have been emphasized by playing with your tone when you reached those moments. For example, when talking about your ex-partner telling you that you will not meet another potential partner in life, the time was too flat and i believe that, by varying it during that delivery, could have been used to drive forward your emotions at that time. The position of yourself against the camera (you come across as too laid back - unless that is the objective 😊 - for a speech with valuable learning points) can be changed for added impact on your own delivery: refer to President Lorraine Taylor's past educational session on body language tips, on how to stand/sit in front of the camera and shift the body position to convey different messages. Although I enjoyed the storytelling, I could not grasp the "what's in it for me?" of the message, which I was expecting just after the 4:04:00me stamp, and was left hanging. Overall, good speech with worth-to-share messages, which could be made clear by working on the provided tips 

and here one from my photography buddy
Janice Susan julie, really enjoyed listening to this and i related to your story. i love your timing. you wanted tips for improvement! so here they are - i think you could use your hands or change your position sometimes to animate the story a little more. as well, i think your ending was slightly abrupt so i wonder if there's something you could say or use the timing (space?) in some way if that really is the last sentence. perhaps you could say something humorous, like the thing you would like to do next (something slightly crazy or challenging or even impossible - like walk on the moon!). those are my only tips because your talks are always inspiring and interesting x


I did prepare and deliver a second time, a tale from the same period, more "storylike" I believe, cutting a lot, online club. Brian Dodd gave me the evaluation on the spot, the only suggestion to move more. He remarked beginning with "Why did you... " three times worked well to attract all attention. And it was funny and entertaining as well at the end, inspiring.

Then Svetlana posted this feedback on it.

Julie, what I liked most is how you intertwined Toastmasters history with a personal story - you were looking for a man and you discovered Toastmasters which had just opened for women, so, there were plenty of men and just two women. "And although all of them were well married and faithful" to their families you learned to listen, to look into the eyes and gained confidence with public speaking, which you brought eventually with you to London.
I like your pauses and facial expressions, because I think it's thanks to them, you manage to capture the attention and take us with you on a journey. Each time.
--- Still more work to do on it.
Here is another when I was standing up and telling with body movements and voice variety - part of it

And here is one created to discover also spark from Adobe while figuring out what to put and what not into the story. This only 2 minutes mostly only voice and photos.


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.


Julie, standing first time online

 2017 03 12 09 Firebirds collective meeting
yes, it still needs some adjusting...
Feedback of Loraine to Julie