Friday, August 13, 2010


“There are only three things you need in order to have a great memory,” he said, rather enthusiastically. “First, you need a good diet. Second, you need good rest. And third …”

He paused, I assumed for dramatic effect. But his body language and his eyes quickly belied that assumption. I think he forgot that third thing.

“And third,” he repeated, “You need to remember things better.”

And with that, I walked out of the seminar, walked directly to the registration table and demanded my money back. The young lady looked at me and said, “But didn’t the seminar just begin?”

“Yes,” I said.

“May I ask why you want your money back?” she inquired.

“Sure,” I said. “He just opened his seminar by saying that to have a good memory you need a good diet, good rest, and you need to remember things better. You tell me, do I need my money back?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized sincerely. Then she returned my check to me.

During the couple of minutes that I asked for and received my money back, five more people had stepped out of the room and were standing in line for their money back. When the young lady noticed that more people were coming out to demand their money back, I heard her say to herself, “Not again.”

As someone who has enjoyed a career developing and facilitating workshops, I believe I can speak from experience in offering the following advice for anyone considering giving seminars or workshops.

First, eat well.

Second, rest well.

Third, be a good seminar or workshop giver.

[Pause for dramatic effect.]

[Three more seconds.]

Okay, obviously that’s a joke made at the expense of the hapless “great memory expert” above.

I’ve actually given workshops on how to make good public presentations, under the title, “Stop Looking Stupid!”, but there is too much information to put it in a simple blog posting. And of course, the “interwebs” is full of advice, both good and bad.

But I’d like to share the two best tips I was taught before I went on the public speaking/workshops circuit.

One, whether you’re the world’s foremost expert on your topic or you’re just starting out, after you give your audience the who, what, why, where, when and how, answer the following question: Now what? (Which of course, leads to many other questions.)

They have your information, so what do they do with it? How do they use it to improve their lives? How do they make a difference? How do they grow, replicate, renew?

Give your audience more than they expected, in a way that makes it memorable, then leave.

Two, your audience can find the information you’re going to present in a lot of other places and from a lot of other sources. So you need to answer the question: Why you?

The simple answer: Style. Why would anyone pay $500 or more for a few hours of information they can easily find elsewhere? It’s the way you give them the same information. You are theater. You are the whisper at the perfect moment. The scream at the unexpected moment. The power tie. The nerd glasses. That mischievous smile that tells the audience, “You’re gonna love this.”

So. To reiterate my seven tips on making good presentations.

One. Eat well.

Two. Rest well.

Three. Give your audience more than they expect.

Four. Make your information memorable.

Five. Style. Have some.

Six. Be a good seminar/workshop giver.

Seven. Leave.

Oh, and here’s a bonus tip: Whenever you can, get paid up front.

[Pause for dramatic effect.]

[Three more seconds.]


Thursday, August 12, 2010


I love a good malapropism, especially from kids. And this one’s a doozy.

It was the groom’s fifth wedding. His 7 or 8 year old son was part of the wedding party, and apparently he had heard the phrase enough to voice it just before the minister was about to speak.

Of course, the son spoke it rather loudly. With obvious exasperation and a theatrical head- and eye-roll that could be easily seen in the back seats.

The minister speaks to the congregation: “If there is anyone here who knows why these two should not be joined in marriage, …”

When out booms the voice of the groom’s son: “Yeah, yeah. Speak cow or forever holster your peas. What’s that mean anyway?”

From the minister at the front of the church to the usher at the back, laughter erupted. Even the bride and groom, who for a brief moment looked mortified, burst out in laughter.

That moment was worth the otherwise crushingly boring ceremony that had dragged on for almost 2-½ hours and came dangerously close to putting even the wedding photographer to sleep.

So the next time you wonder whether to voice your opinion, remember the poignant words of our pint-sized philosopher: Speak cow or forever holster your peas.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Two weeks ago, Joe ran an eleven-minute mile on a flat track. It was the best time he had run in five years.

Last week, Joe ran a six-minute mile, in the woods, while jumping over logs and dodging trees and bushes. The bear behind him ran slightly slower.

The dramatic one-week difference in Joe’s running time?


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


“Do you own a yacht?” the interviewer wanted to know.

It seemed a question completely out of context, having no relevance to the middle-aged woman’s need for food.

“Excuse me?” she responded. “Do I own a what?”

“A yacht,” he said, rather snarkily. “Do you own a yacht?”

“A yacht?” she asked. “You want to know if I own a luxury boat? You do know I’m applying for some help with food to feed my children and myself. If I owned a yacht I probably wouldn’t need help with food.”

“So is that a ‘no’ answer?” he asked, still snarkily.

“You’re seriously asking me if I own a yacht?” Her question sounded like she simply couldn’t believe that such a question was even in the realm of possibility to be asked. “Why not ask me if I own a boat? Or maybe a canoe. Or maybe a rubber raft. One of those might be reasonable. But a yacht?!”

“If you just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ we can move on to the next question,” he said flatly.

“The next question?” she asked rather sharply, her voice rising. “What’s that? Do I travel to the unemployment line in a Rolls Royce? Or maybe you want to know if I’ll be dining with the President this evening after feeding my kids with your free box of macaroni and cheese. What is the matter with you people?”

“Okay. I’ll put no yacht,” he said, completely unmoved by her vexation, as if he’d heard it hundreds of times before and simply didn’t care any longer. “Next question,” he continued. “Have you ever been arrested for prostitution?”

“You know,” she said as she stood up. “F#(k you."

The interviewer barely looked up at her. He simply grabbed a new set of questionnaires and called out, “Next.”

So permit me to offer this simple aside. If you’re working in the compassion sector and you find your days to be sadly similar to the one described above – change jobs.

Seriously. Find a different line of work, or at the very least, a different organization within which to work. You and the people you are there to help, will sincerely appreciate it.

Compassion, after all, is still about love. And last time I checked, love had nothing to do with upsetting someone to the point of such exasperation that the F-bomb is dropped.

Seriously. If that describes you, become a different you.

Monday, August 9, 2010



Not that I advocate relieving yourself in clean whitewater rapids,but I do advocate enjoying your

Monday Morning Chuckle.