The Power of 26 – Words to Live and Laugh By

Laugh I thought I’d die.
Die. I thought they’d bury me.
Bury me. The cover me with dirt.
And dirt tickles.
Laugh I thought I’d die!

And so goes the introduction to the speech I did not give last night.

Some readers may be familiar with the international public speaking organization
known as Toastmasters. I’ve been proudly a member for 9 years now.

Last night was one of our two semi-annual club contests. This one included
presenting a humourous speech of 5 to 7 minutes.

Two of my colleagues also participated and I’m  pleased to tell you I took third place
all by myself!  Ha!

Today’s intro I replaced with a different opening, and I’m glad I did as it just
more suitable to the night. But I had videotaped my performance and I was very
pleased because I stayed on topic. Remembered my storylines. Got a few laughs,
and kept up my confidence of speaking in front of people (about 30 of them).

While it’s disheartening to finish in 3rd  place when there are only 3 participants
in looking at myself on video I realized I had nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
In fact I did get warm congratulations from my colleagues and other members

I did a good job. But my colleagues did a little better, got more laughs, and good for them.

What the result did remind me of is the power of our words. In conjunction with
our gestures and overall body language, our words relay so much about us.
We’ve all witnessed how the right turn of phrase here or there can make all the difference.

An old adage reads: ‘If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.’ 
That remains on-point to this day.

For me, writing and rewriting my speech was what gave it the polish I needed
to feel good about what I was going to say and how I hoped to make my
audience laugh and enjoy a good chuckle. 

It wasn’t that I was bad. I won’t beat myself up for that. I was good. I had taken
the time to prepare and get it written and get it right. I gave it my best shot and
if others best me, well then good for them.
But it reminded me of two critical things about the Power of Words:

• Take the time to do it right the first time. Edit, Revise, Correct, Modify, Change, ReDo,
Alter, and polish and shine it up BEFORE you get in front of audience. Whether they are
live listening to you present, or reading your works of passion, I implore you that now
is the time to use your words to their fullest measure.  Once you’ve begun to speak,
or them to read, is not the time to go back and say ‘ I Meant to Say’. 
What they hear or read is what they believe you meant.

• Expect and accept that sometimes your best effort in your writing is not always
going to be the winner. We know you’re wonderfully creative and you worked hard
on it, but sometimes, despite your best efforts, someone else’s best may triumph.

Let it be all the more motivation for you to find even better words next time.
Learn from what you wrote, and said, and did.

They next one could be your masterpiece of rearranging 26 letters. Those words
are in you just waiting to be heard. 

Somewhere near your funny bone lurks the line or story with Power that will make
your audience chuckle and say, this guy made me Laugh, I thought I’d die!

Dennis Kelly


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