熊本 Toastmasters Club
(English Only)The idea of “beat your boss” occurred to me when I was pondering over a suitable topic for the humorous speech contest. It was true that I had a hard time keeping up with my ex-boss, when I was working for a company. One year ago he died of cancer and I decided to set all the bad memories aside and create a humorous story about him.
Someone suggested that I hide myself behind a whiteboard while I was disguised. In fact, it had a surprise effect when I showed up from behind a whiteboard disguised as the boss. Some of the audience already started to giggle and this made me feel relaxed.
My first speech, at an in-house contest, was not as amusing as I wanted it to be. But the second speech, at an area contest, had quite a response from the audience. For one thing, the audience was larger. For another, there was an Australian gentleman among the guests who laughed loudly throughout my speech. This was really encouraging to me and it made me feel self-confident. I wondered at the same time if my story was more agreeable for foreigner than my fellow Japanese. As we know there are differences among people as to what triggers them to laugh. For instance, what is funny in Osaka is not so funny for Tokyo people and vice versa. When I proceeded to the division contest, I was lucky enough to find another happy foreigner in the audience, whose laughter echoed through the hall. I owed much of my success in the divisional contest to his help.
The final round of the district contest was even better for me as we had a number of foreigners in the audience including native speakers of English. A fellow member from my club who attended all the contests confirmed that the last one had the utmost response from the audience.
After the awards were given to the speakers, one of the contestants observed that the main reason for my success must have been the deadpan delivery of my speech. I think he was right. I tried not to crack a smile while I was speaking because I know that the speech would be cheerless, if I laughed along with the audience. Another important point in the humorous speech is the pause. You have to put a pause while the audience is laughing. Otherwise your next words are inaudible because of the laughing sound. I acquired some techniques like this as I moved up the ladder step by step. But the most important thing in any speech must be the practice. You have to rehearse your speech over and over until you can keep talking naturally without even thinking about what comes next.
The first prize at the district contest was certainly the biggest event for me. I have never done anything so worthwhile in my life. For those who aim at success in speech contest, I would like to quote a proverb; where there’s a will there’s a way.