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Education Post - Introducing Toastmasters and Toastmasters Speech Contest

Publish Date: 2013-10-21

http://www.educationpost.com.hk/resources/mba/131008-mba-blog-however-serious-your-message-remember-power-humour (Posted by Sean Lin, DTM on 8th Oct 2013)

However serious your message, remember the power of humour

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Once again it is the contest season of Toastmasters International1.

In Hong Kong and Macau, members from more than 50 Toastmasters Clubs are competing for three places to represent us to proceed into the National Speech Contest. This season is about Humorous Speech and Speech Evaluation.

Humorous speech? Why is it so serious to deserve speech contest, and even on a national level?

That brought me back to an incident during my MBA studies.

It happened during a Managerial Accounting course. One day classmate Betty (it’s a masked name to protect the real identity of the person involved) entered the classroom in a rush. It’s a Saturday afternoon and she just finished a long morning in office. All she could do was to bring along some bananas, grabbed from the university café downstairs of course.

As she sat down, she opened the text book, and at the same time started saving herself from starvation.

Well, it seemed that the professor was either not a big fan of banana, or afraid the class would be carried away by the bright yellow colour, or the thought that someone else is feeding her physiologically, while they were, intellectually.

“You’re not allowed to eat here. If you’re to eat, you have to be out!”

The remarks might be perceived in different manners, but it had certainly offended Betty.  She left the classroom without bidding farewell, in fact, with fires in her eyes.

Eventually, the matter was escalated all the way to the Department Head.

Are you wondering how it was resolved finally?

Coincidently, the course was taught by both the professor and the then Accounting Department Head. The Department Head, coincidently, took over the teaching afterwards. It made sense as it was half way through the course.

Well, our memories were short and it seemed that the matter was forgotten after a while.

At the end-of-course lecture, the Department Head came in, this time, with a box of A4 paper in his hands. After course evaluation, he opened the box, guess what’s inside?

A box full of bananas.

Every year when we were having class reunions, I did not think we had recalled even one accounting principle, but the banana incident was definitely among the top stories that we could recount, including every single detail. Every time we did burst into the same laughter as the last 10 minutes of the course.

That’s the power of humour.

Humour is powerful communication tools that could bring relationship closer, shorten the gap, break the ice, facilitate buy-in and enhance retention. No wonder when state leaders meet, the first thing among any conversation would be jokes around the weather.

And humour is at its best when it is least expected. That’s also why Mr Bean II would be perceived less excited and less humorous than the original Mr Bean, because audience has built up expectation already.

Next time when you are communicating, no matter how serious your message would be, remember the power of humour, and use it wisely to give a higher chance to your cause.

If you are interested to watch the Toastmasters International Hong Kong Humorous Speech Contest on November 2 and 9 this year, you can check out the details at www.hongkong-toastmasters.org

1Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation has more than 292,000 memberships in more than 14,350 clubs in 122 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.