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 2011 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:
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.
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.
More audience, lots of energy, easier and not more difficult to perform,
to tell my true tale of when I was 10 years old and the war caught up with me.
There were almost 500 in the huge town hall in Manchester that day.
I had some difficulty to find a "good ending", a satisfying ending to a sad tale.
Of course, "I am here to tell the tale" was already great, but I found a more touching end.
One can tell the same tale so many ways! There are all "true" but how you tell the story counts.
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 FlynnLike the way you work towards the positive resolution in each of the phases of adversity. Paul E. Whitevery interesting from a loss of confidence to refinding your voice and your confidence thanks to Toastmasters... thanks for sharing... Deirdre WalshReally 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 HorobaJulie, 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 SinhaDear 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 CleofaJulie 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 RamchurnThank 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 Susanjulie, 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.
November 2013 after a "refreshment workshop" with the Comedy School they invited me to perform at the showcase of new Standup Comedy students.
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, that I am not English, that my mother language was Hungarian.)
It is good to recognise what they see and hear. Then of course comes the surprises. In my case proving that we old folks 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 of us who ever did something because "he or she was not there".
"Toping" is adding to a punch line without necessity to introduce, it also gives 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 (just before my first ever standup comedy performance), so what? I told it first the day it happened and then 77+ times as it was that morning.
It is not important when, and it make seem more "fresh".
And I still tell "I am 77" it seems a sexier year, easier to remember then 78 or 79 (or now, more).
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 of my performance. It work very well every time. Sometimes, I got even standing ovation for it. But then, I do not stop at that but top it and top it again, usually getting laughter after laughter for the end.
It is best to leave your best working part to the end, your second best at the beginning.
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 dare to try it out. It does work each time.
Added to the routine (It grows with new frustrations)
There are some added parts that were used the first in this performance, from frustrations I got just then before I performed this, about 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 - well, sometimes" and let the audience think first of something else, "I did not say it" 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. 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 a part works better or less depending whom listens. That is normal, most important is all love and enjoy most of it.