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.


"Awesome old lady week : julie kertesz"

Awesome Old Lady of the Week: Julie Kertesz

Article by Joanne Lau

Julie Kertesz is 80-year-old grandmother of five, with a PhD in chemistry. She’s a professional storyteller, keeps an active blog and posts photos to her popular Flickr account everyday. Did we mention she’s also an award-winning stand-up comedian?  Joanne Lau spoke to this incredibly cool lady and learned it’s never too late for anything. 
julie with mic
What is your name?
Julie. My actual name’s Judith, but my mother called me Julika after an actress in Hungary she liked with a daughter of the same name.
Where were you born?
I was born in 1934 in Transylvania, a province in Romania surrounded by mountains. I liked growing up there. We lived in the biggest city, but it felt small and quiet. The Second World War was happening all round, but I didn’t know it. Then, suddenly, when I was 10, the war caught up with me. In 1944, we had to leave the city and flee the Nazis. We were a Hungarian-speaking Christian family, but of Jewish origin. We fled to Budapest. The SS were already waiting at the station, but using papers from another family, we managed to live in hiding for a year before having to flee again from the Russians. During that year I began to write a diary because my mother didn’t want me to speak to many people around me. I never stopped.
Where do you currently live?
I’ve been in London for about six years. Before that, I lived in and around Paris for 35 years. When I came to London, I felt very alone. I went to various photography meet-ups, but didn’t connect with anyone. About six months later I joined the Toastmasters clubs. I’d previously been involved with Toastmasters in America, but hadn’t continued when I went back to France. I joined two clubs in London and made a lot of connections and friends. It gave me the courage to go out and tell my stories. I’ve told my stories for Spark London at the Canal Café Theatre. I’ve spoken in front of 500 people in Manchester, where I told my story about how, when I was 10, the war couldn’t break me. The story is told in the voice of my 10-year-old self with no reference to any knowledge I have now.
What is/was your profession?
One story I tell is called Mistaken Identity. It’s about how I completely changed professions at 48 years old. I started as a research chemist. I studied chemistry in high school but wasn’t allowed to go to university under the Communist regime as my father was a director in a factory and thus bourgeois. It wasn’t until I began working that I was allowed to study. I worked as a technician and studied for my degree by correspondence at an open university. In a way, it was a big advantage because I learned to how learn without someone teaching me.
So, I was one week away from finishing my degree, when a woman walked into the laboratory and demanded I give her my desk. I didn’t know who she was so I refused. She became agitated and I dared to tell her: “Don’t be hysterical. I cannot give you my desk because my boss is not here to tell me if this is OK.” She turned out to be the wife of the Romanian dictator.
Within three minutes I’d lost my job, been thrown out of university without graduating and declared an enemy of the people of Communist Romania. The wife became the director of the institute almost immediately after she finished her degree. She then became an academic, though everyone else did her work and she just put her name on it. I couldn’t tell anyone for a long time. Not until after their deaths in 1989.
I was one week away from finishing my degree, when a woman walked into the laboratory and demanded I give her my desk. I didn’t know who she was so I refused. She turned out to be the wife of the Romanian dictator. Within three minutes I’d lost my job, been thrown out of university without graduating and declared an enemy of the people of Communist Romania.
I wanted to leave Romania, but couldn’t. It wasn’t till I was married and pregnant that I finally got my passport. We moved to France and I began work again as a chemist and when the opportunity arose, I restarted my studies. In 1977, I got my PhD. I was working by day in the research institute, had two children, and studied for my PhD on the side. One reason I wanted the diploma was to have closure. The other was I was having problems with my husband and if I didn’t get a job with enough money, I wouldn’t be able to keep my children.
After my PhD and my divorce, I moved to America with my children and worked there for three years as a research chemist. As a non-American citizen, they didn’t want us to prolong our stay after my contract was over, so I returned to France. Finding a research chemist position in France proved near impossible. They told me I was too old, that I was a woman, and that I was not born there. It was very difficult and I needed work because I had my children. At 47 years old, I had to switch careers. I’ve learned you can use the strengths you have from one profession to another. They don’t have to be used do the same thing. In fact, sometimes you discover you can do things you didn’t know you could do. I had an interest in computers and some experience with public speaking through my time with the Toastmasters clubs. When I couldn’t find a job, I began learning and teaching a bit of computer programming – literally learning at night, then teaching it the next day. Then I started a company that imported computer products from America and sold them in France.
I was 60 when I left that job. A friend told me to do something until I knew what to do, so I read my diaries from beginning to end for the first time in my life. I decided to put them on Macintosh to save them for my children, but I realised it could be interesting for others, so I decided to publish them. (http://julie2004.blogspot.co.uk/) That was how I discovered blogging.
My second marriage ended when I was 70 and at that age, I discovered I would rather speak about my life day-by-day without publishing my diaries anymore, so I started a blog called Il y a de la vie après 70 ans (There is Life After 70). I did it to prove to myself and others there is something to do after 70. I also discovered photography. I did documentary photography, joined Flickr, and began to share a collection of my photos around Paris. It became very popular.
Now I have 50-60,000 pictures published in albums and groups and I use them for my blogs. I still photograph and publish every day, and people from around the world look at my photos. I get 15,000-20,000 hits per day
Julie Shaving
What is your secret talent?
One time telling Mistaken Identity, people began to laugh. I decided to try to make them laugh when I wanted rather than by chance. I decided to try some comedy workshops. At the age of 77, I discovered I had funny bones. I got the Silver Comedy best newcomer award and went on to perform in 20 different comedy clubs – I didn’t even know 20 existed before! After 20 gigs, I decided I wanted to do at least 77 because I began at 77. Now I’m past 77 gigs and still going.
Most of the people at stand-up comedy clubs are young and I am like the grandmother talking about personal things. I think one of the reasons people like my act so much is that they realise I’m 80 and I’m not from here and I give them courage. If I can do it, they can too. I hope I inspire people to learn and discover new things.
The most important thing I gained from comedy was that I began to look at my life through a comedy eye. When something bad happens to me now, I look to see how I can make something funny from it. It makes things less heavy and difficult to bear. I laugh about me having to shave and I have a published photo with shaving cream. I can laugh about losing my teeth and breaking my leg.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
That’s hard because I’ve shared so much about myself in so many places! How about that I read erotic romance? I don’t like pornography. It needs to have an emotional story behind it. Books like 50 Shades of Grey are like fairy tales to me. Thank goodness for my Kindle so my grandchildren can’t see my book collection!
Would you like to be a young woman in the 21st century?
Yes! Young people have the web. It’s great to get to know people from other places. Everywhere I go I meet bloggers and photographers I met through the web and they show me their cities and I show them mine. I’ve met a lot of interesting people like that. You know what I do regret most about not being a young woman now? I had beautiful breasts – young women now can show them quite a lot and we never could in my day!
Julie with Judy Carter 2
What is your favourite indulgence?
I treated myself to some comedy workshops in Las Vegas and Los Angeles with Judy Carter. I like to tell stories, do comedy, take photos. Now I want to teach people how to tell their stories.
What are you most proud of?
My children and my five grandchildren. Three of my grandchildren are in America and two live here in London. They’re all wonderful.
What is your daily beauty regime?
Smile a lot. I have beautiful smiley wrinkles. That’s my idea of beauty.
What advice would you give your 30-year-old-self?
Laugh. Even if someone is not nice to you, you can begin again. I meet young people who tell me they’ve been hurt once and will never love again. You can have more than one love, more than one friend, more than one profession! It’s never too late for anything.
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    Joanne Lau is that tired-looking Chinese-Canadian girl on the tube scribbling in her notebook and staring into space a lot.


    Manchester "When I was ten the war caught up with me" Julie Kertesz

    "True Stories with Grant Whisky" at Manchester Town hall with 400 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.

    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.


    Learning how to tell a story...

    Bill Jersay, demonstrates with his short films the power of storytelling.

    "I am interested in helping someone tell their story, and tell them well." he begins.
    Telling a good story is crucial. A story beats arguments.

    It can be an individual story, how we realised some goals, how we got in trouble, how we got out of it: we all have stories to tell.

    Ask yourself "what is my story?"

    You have all a story worth telling! It can be a "big" story or a story about a small event: interesting, giving insight and interpreting information.


    Video by Spark London 'Mistaken Identity' night Julie Kertesz true story

    First told as registered here, at Canal Cafe for the Spark London 'mistaken identity' this video spokes of change of life and about "we have more in us then we know".  And the telling of how I changed my profession at age 48, changed again my life at 77!

    The audience laughed, a lot, why? How may I do when I want them to laugh? I discovered Standup Comedy, took classes, and went to open mic clubs. Got awards and lots of laughter.

    Now after 77+ performances? I can tell : I had funny bones I did not know about! Plus at any frustration I now look: how can I present it look at it with comedian eyes.
    Will I be able to retell this in only 7 minutes instead of 11? What should I cut? Finaly, they let me tell almost all of the story. 

     Yesterday, March 25, they told me I can cut the first three minutes! I'll try it thus. But I have to add the motivation: 'I want my son back' then later that I did. And perhaps, at the end, mention him again, so the end matches the beginning. Instead of 'microcomputer' use 'personal computer'. Instead of 'cave' use 'cellar in the garden'. 
    There is a video from another angle of my performance (one taken by my family and the other by organiser), alas I was more facing the audience then the videographer. 

    In fact, I told it first, 4 year ago in the middle of the deep recession, as Mystery Speaker to a Toastmasters club near Victoria Station. At that time the title must have been "think outside the box" to show that we could look at all we know and like not only at a job or profession description of us.

    This storytelling November 2010 was a pivotal experience for me, because the audience laughed a lot and I decided to learn how to make humour - when I want!  I found my first Stand Up Comedy Workshop at the Comedy School. Then, the second Standup & Deliver, and then later the same year the third, with David Jones. After then, at age 77 I went out to the Comedy Circuit "at least 20 he told us".

    As to now, beginning 2014 I have performed more then 77 times as Standup, and have also given many many other true stories together with other storytellers at Spark.

     One of the "secrets" is to go out not to "win" but to try out something new, challenge yourself to experiment each time something. It is very useful, at least at the beginning to take video and see yourself.

    That is how I realised that I run out to fast in Mistaken Identity, I hid from the lights another times, and I realised the next time when I do not hide, fast my eyes get used and I forget about lights in my eyes.

    Another time, Johanna told me "you move too much" and yes, again I was to avoid the strong reflectors, next time after my opening sentence I sit down and gave all using voice variety and face. It was a very successful performance: "you looked straight to me when you told the stories!" - I did not tell her that in the dark of the audience I could not see anyone other then the first row.

     Going out like there are our friends, not as we go to the "lions den", and even speaking with some before and becoming nearer is important. After you have spoken, they seem to be nearer you, and you to all audience through them and react more, better.
    Go to http://www.youtube.com/user/sparklondon to see other storytellers too!


    The nature is always there for us

    Sunrise, with a true story of this morning 11 pictures from this morning with a true story

    The sky is always there for us! 

    10 minutes before 8 am, in London.

    This morning, I walked up my legs hurting and had to take, again, my two crutches to go to the kitchen. Six month already passed since I fractured a leg, three month since I strained the other leg knee, and I already believed I can walk with nothing!

    I am 80, true. But will I always walk only with crutches from now on? Is my life finished? My father died, at 80. I have still so much intern energy!

    I put the water to boil, make myself a coffee, then looked out of the window. Almost eight and the sun still rising, in December, the sunrise arrives late. Summertime, I catch it often around five.

    What a beautiful sunrise!

    I have to take it, show it, remember. There is always a joy, even when I remain home.

    Fast, before the sun is all up! I went to my room without crutches, fast and took my camera. Do  not even remember how I come back, went nearer the kitchen window to take these pictures. A few as it was then with zoom to show better the clouds reddened by the rising sun.

    Suddenly my eyes fall on the top of the garages visible from that window. All white, frozen. Well, not a weather for me to go out yet. At least, not in the morning. But after noon, it will be dry again and no more slippery.

    Yes, I will go out, walk to the bus instead of taking a taxi to the hospital appointment.

    There is always the sky & another sunrise or sundown for us!

    I remembered suddenly another day, when I was very down, half lifetime ago.

    Coming home from market, suddenly seeing the beautiful clouds coloured by the sun going down. They gave me back my courage that there is still something in life for me.

    Please, take this 12 images and most importantly, remember: the sky, clouds and the nature are always there for us, even the times when we feel all else failed. The sky is always there for us.          


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

    November 2012 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.