Category Archives: Humour & Laughter

Concise Communication Tips for the Day

When East Meets West - What Do You Do?

Greetings are cultural dependent – A Chinese person would most likely ask “Have you Eaten?”, to which you should answer “Yes..” to start the conversation.

A Westerner would most likely ask, “How are you?” or “How have you been!”, to which you answer “Great, and you look great too!”.

Unfortunately, the biggest wrong answer a Westerner can give when he meets a Chinese person is to answer “No! Are you giving me a treat?”!

Similarly, it’s important to take Westernized comments such as comments such as you were great! And “you’re really charming…” with a pinch of salt!

Reciprocity of greetings in cultural contexts is the key. The problem of miscommunication often arises when one party misreads or mis-reciprocates the other party’s advances!

Are You a PowerPoint Terrorist?

The Dark Side of PowerPoint

We All Know the Story.

You walk in for the presentation, only to see the speaker setting up.

The projector is on and his every move is seen by everyone in the audience…

He clicks on his file. The PowerPoint loads and it does, you notice:

Horror No 1: You notice that there are 645 slides in the entire presentation

Horror No 2:
They all look like this (below)

Honey... I shrunk the words

You say to yourself, “Maybe the speaker might be interesting and engaging…”

Your hopes shimmer for awhile as you sense that the speaker’s about to make eye contact.

Your hopes are dashed when you realise:

Horror No 3:

I love you PowerPoint... Lead me Read the Ways...

He establishes eye contact with the screen.

We all know what happens next.

You start struggling with the “Z” Monster. A brave soul from the audience decides to take things into his own hands.

He leaves the room to create his own PowerPoint presentation

We see this the next day:

Death by Powerpoint

* * *

Let’s face it. PowerPoint “Presentations” are a pain! And if Osama bin Laden were a less charismatic leader, he could still have used Powerpoint as his weapon of mass destruction!

Speaking of a PowerPoint Terrorist, have you ever wondered if you could be one of them too? Continue reading Are You a PowerPoint Terrorist?

Crackling Standup Comic! – Australian Baggage by Rhod Gilbert

Alright… I couldn’t help it. It’s been one week since I last set foot in the comedy club but I haven’t been able to get the scene or the concept of stand up comedy out of my head!

In fact, I’ve been thinking about the strategies, the principles and the technique of delivery… more specifically, I’m thinking about the timing, the set up, the topics to use in a set… and who I can study to gain inspiration and insights into becoming a strong stand up comic…

Then, I found this video.

It’s a stand up comedy performance by a comedian from Wales performing in Australia. Here, have a look at it and try to keep a straight face until the end of it. Drop me a line if you can!


I think we can all agree that the comedian did brilliantly in the manner of his delivery and set up. Did you observe how he started off all stern and serious and leading the audience towards at state of solemness.

Then at the point of intense tension – he pulled out and executed his punchline: his broken luggage handle.

Observe how the comedian delivers punchline after punchline after punchline from then onwards – it’s a series of jokes weaved seamlessly into a story. Each joke is based on the last one and each is built with the help of exaggeration, absurdity and especially the incidences of cruel irony.

Let’s see some of the principles at work with the jokes he used:

1:00: “Then this arrived…”
2:23: “I’m thrilled to get this back” … “The thing is I’ll be here for two months!”
2:58: “Surely it would have gotten very light very quickly!”
*general actions, vocal tonality and animation of points to build tension and anticipation*

Cruel Irony:
1:30: “The first three times this went around, I laughed as well!”
3:32: “Does your luggage have any distinguishing features?”
*personal reaction to loss of luggage and its ‘recovery’*

2:04: Australian baggage officer’s query, “what seems to be the problem?”
2:25: I’m pretty sure I packed more than this
3:09: “Somebody packed for me and thought this is all I need?”
*concept of redundancy of airport protocol*

There’re several elements underlying the success of this stand up comic. Of the principles mentioned, his ability and sense of timing and delivery played crucial roles too, in addition to this ability utilize those tools as mentioned and more to his advantage. Very importantly too though, is his ability to conceptualise and weave his material together.

Whatever it is, however, the work that a stand up comic puts into preparing each performance is no laughing matter… and chances are, it’s going to take years, if not months, for one to get a sharper sense of what works and what doesn’t!

Still, for all you humorists out there who are seeking to have a firmer grasp of the concept of humour, continue studying comedians like Rhod Gilbert to gather more skills and techniques and sharpen your sense of timing and delivery!

Speaking Rules Shot Down with Stand Up Comedy – How to Survive your First Attempt at Stand Up Comedy!

It was an eye opening experience. An entertaining one too as my good friend and fellow speaker bombed on stage! It was a treat – we don’t get to see that very often! Heck, it was the first time I ever saw him bombed!

But as speakers, we understood the value of bombing, in addition to the appreciating the experience (both good and bad) of speaking on stage. The important takeaway for both of us was the educational experience – and for him, he had a bonus – stage experience to count amongst that. You see, we’d met earlier for a meeting, and we’d sat together to run through his script with us. Yes, STAND UP COMEDIANS do prepare and rehearse their material too – and the both of us were busy formulating stories and helping him polish up his jokes too.

Heck, just for the kick of it, we were preparing a contingency plan too. Together with another associate of ours, we discussed the ideal seating location too, ie where to sit. With (or without… I can’t remember anymore) we decided to seat ourselves near the door just in case he bombed incessantly on stage!

Oh fine… our contingency plan wasn’t executed when his act was delivered. But he did bomb despite using all the speaking strategies that we’ve been trained in. Being the keen Toastmasters and eager learners that we were, we sought feedback from another stand up comedian who was comparatively more experienced compared to us.

The feedback we got was startling.

The bad news was we failed for a number of reason. The good news, however, was we received lots of feedback and there were several lessons to be learned from OUR Failure.

Yes, we’ve failed so that you can benefit! Actually, to be more accurate, My friend failed for OUR BENEFIT! So we’re getting extra value here!

So let’s cut to the chase. Here were some of the lessons we managed to milk from the experience: Continue reading Speaking Rules Shot Down with Stand Up Comedy – How to Survive your First Attempt at Stand Up Comedy!

Everybody Wants to Be Entertained!

Everybody wants to be entertained. And when I mean entertained, I do not mean entertainment in the Russel Peters or Jerry Seinfield sense!

Entertainment is not necessarily confined to the field of humour. Horror, mystery, drama and fantasy are other forms of entertainment that appeal to the senses of people. Don’t you think so?
Continue reading Everybody Wants to Be Entertained!

PowerPoint: Sometimes You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying

I wanted to Post this from Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen a long time ago… but didn’t due to several reasons. Most because I was very proactive at procrastinating. I’m sorry!

But the good news is… it’s here!

I like this post because of it was structured to included visual aids and a video to highlight certain points about improving our PowerPoint Presentations, and more so how it can be used as a tool for Humour! Oh yes, don’t we all enjoy a good laugh?

So here it is! Enjoy!

PowerPoint: Sometimes You Have to Laugh to Keep from Crying

PowerPoint is a great tool for displaying visuals that enhance, illustrate, and generally magnify your narrative. It’s been used effectively for years by millions of professionals from such disciplines as academia, engineering, medicine, business, education, government (mostly ineffectively in this case), design, technology, and comedy. Comedy?

PowerPoint as pure comedy gold
Below are a few examples of presenters using PowerPoint to help illustrate their messages. In each case the tool actually enhanced the presenter’s ability to make a connection with the audience and drive their messages home. The first two presentations are by Don McMillan. Don is a former engineer with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. He gives some good advice on using the PowerPoint tool properly.

Is there life after death by PowerPoint?

Users guide to life
Whoever it was that designed humans did a pretty good job, McMillan says, but they provided no good documentation. McMillan has compiled his own data and shares some of it below in what he calls the Users Guide to Life.

Economics explained in ten bullet points
Standup economist Yoram Bauman (he’s an actual economist too) uses PowerPoint and bullet points to effectively state his case. See, bullet points are not always a bad thing.

Chicken, chicken, chicken
It is said that only about 7% of our messages are expressed verbally. Is it possible, then, to make a connection with an audience and make meaning using traditional death-by-PowerPoint techniques and limiting your vocabulary to one word? Watch this presentation below by Doug Zongkers and find out.

Motivational business presentation by David Brent

No PowerPoint here, but what would presentation comedy be without reviewing a presentation from business guru and Renaissance man David Brent (Ricky Gervais), know for his maverick management techniques and political correctness. Below David gives tips on motivating employees.

(I love to laugh; it’s good for health. I know I’m very slow, but last week I finally received my DVDs of the complete series of The Office (BBC). Believe it or not, I’d never seen it (nor the U.S. version). This show is absolutely brilliant. I’ve become a huge Ricky Gervais fan and just love Extras as well. The subtlety of the humour is priceless and really brings a “smile to the mind.” Hope some of the clips above brought a smile to your mind as well.)


I hope you enjoyed the posts and videos!

To access the full video links, you may check out the permalink to the article on Presentation Zen!


Animate Your Message!

In a research report published years ago, it was noted that words constituted a considerably small portion of a message. Naturally, non-verbal messages such as our vocal tone, rhythm and body gestures form a considerably larger portion of of the messages we’re trying to communicate!

To highlight this, I found a little video on Youtube which showcases how a message or a point may be brought to life when accompanied with a suitable mix of body gestures, facial expressions and vocal variety.

See if you can spot the ways the actors used the above throughout the video!
(Actually, it’s quite hard to miss… *wink*)

Have fun!

Related Posts: More Than Words

How to Be Funny – The Mechanics of Humour

Now as promised, this post is a follow up on the Principle of Humour! Yes! Finally!

Having been a pretty boring and dull person earlier on (well, I’m sure I’m still guilty of it sometimes!), I began examining exactly what tickled people’s funny bone, be it in social situations or in private. My search led me to the discovery of what I called, the Principle of Humour.

However, knowing the underlying principle wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to specifically what were the Mechanics of Humour. I wanted to know what were the real nuts and bolts and tools that make people laugh! The specific tools that allows us to create surprises! Here are some of the most powerful tools I’ve learnt and used to great effect!

1) Exaggerate It!

This technique involves one-uping or blowing up a certain situation or idea beyond its most commonly anticipated form in people’s mind. Hey, we are talking about creating surprises here! And exaggeration is a sure way of making sure that the impression or point your trying to bring across will be an “EXTRAORDINARY” one!

What a way to be remembered!

2) Twist It!

We all know how conversations seem to take a certain life and direction on it’s own when we’re talking with other people. Have you ever realised that there’re times when you could almost predict what’re the sentences and words that will next come out of the speakers mouth?

Yes! We are all intelligent people and so we’ve learnt to anticipate what’s coming up next, either consciously or subconsciously. So, can you imagine how we could exploit this human tendancy to anticipate to create surprises? Yes! By “Twisting It!”

Twisting It involves leading our listener down the familiar road which allows us to predict or preempt our listener’s response by inserting it with a totally unexpected answer – preferably a drastic one (see point 1)!

Take for example a conversation with a friend who asks you if you went out with that hot waiter/waitress you both met the other day.

Friend: So, did you ask her out?
You: Sure did!
Friend: How did it go?
You: It was unforgetable!
Friend: Wow! That great? Tell me about it!
You: She was a transvestite.

Ok… something like this. You get the picture!

3) Animate It!

Bring your message to life! Act it out! Humour isn’t all just about wit and humour and words. Have you ever stopped to think that even mime’s can be funny?

Usage of vocal variety and tones, facial expression and exagerrated body gestures are some ways of animating your message and bringing it to life! Imagine the surprises you’ll be creating in the lives of people who are so used to dealing with words in the form of forms, powerpoint, documents, contracts, notes, handouts, fliers, newspapers (the list goes on!) etc. Think about the impact you’ll be making!

I was tempted to show a video each after each principle to highlight each point. However, I believe that you woulld have realised by now that the 3 principles above work best when they are used with each other! So, here they are some exhibits below for your ‘reference’. See if you can spot those principles in action!



Movie Trailer


And last but not least…


I’m pretty sure you’ve got a clearer idea of the mechanics and principle of humour. So, what are you waiting for? Go make someone laugh today!

After all, don’t you enjoy a good laugh too?

Stop Trying to Reinvent the Wheel!

In our quest to become a more effective public speaker, I’ve noticed many people trying to reinvent the wheel by coming up with new ways to speak and entertain.

Creativity is coveted quality – but it’s tiring to constantly reinvent the wheel. Look up a winning formula and adopt it. Then apply some creativity and innovation to tweak it a little to make it original! It’s new, it’s yours and it’ll be effective! Hey, even if it goes wrong, you can be sure it won’t be far off the mark because it’s after all based on a successful formula!

Most successful public speakers and stand up comedians have so much speaking experience that they’ve more than one formula for success which they can employ in different situations. They’ve gotten so experienced and familiar with what their routines that they could whip up a tried and proven formula on the spot, make some minor adjustments to adapt it to suit the situation, environment and audience!

And we can learn from these by adopting similar strategies and trying them out ourselves!

So now, take note of the following when you attend a seminar or get the chance to witness a competent speaker in action:

1) Body Language

How does the speaker utilise body language to emphasis his/her message. What specific gestures did he use to articulate specific points? Where they effective?

2) Voice Variety

How was the speaker’s tone? Was he/she going monotone throughout the entire session?

How was his/her pace like? Did he stop to use pauses or did he just rush through it like a bullet train? Did his use (or absence) of vocal variety hold your attention?

3) Powerful Words

Were there any words that he used that captured your attention? How about words that left a deep impression on you? Were there any phrases that appeared particularly well said? Did the words paint a vivid picture before you?

So there you have it, 3 suggestions on what you could look out for when you come across a powerful public speaker? Don’t worry about “stealing” their formula. “Stealing” self-improvement ideas for personal development will forever be one thing that the police can’t catch you for!

Now then, what would you like to add to your array of public speaking tools?

More than Words!

Take a look at the following clips! Compare and contrast…

Torn – Video 1

Torn – Video 2

It’s undeniable that words play a big, big role in our communication. Yet, do you realise that our messages can take on a whole new dimension if we alter our body language?

Consider also the different receptions to messages when our words are accompanied by different body language!

Amazing isn’t it?

So now, consider how you can make body language work for you too!

The Principle of Humour

The governing Principle of Humour is really about creating surprises! The greater the surprise, the louder the laughter!

Children are excellent examples of laughter generators! One can never be quite sure what a child has up his/her sleeve and what is the next word that’s going to come out of the innocent world of children.

Is there any wonder why children are such natural humourists?

Meanwhile, enjoy the video! =P

Coming soon: The Mechanics of Humour!

Critical! You must do this to improve!

What does Michael Jordan and David Beckham have in common?

Yes, they are professional athletes who are great at what they do. Michael Jordan is But besides that, they both achieved their magnificent abilities the same way. Yes, the basketball great and soccer star attained their respective world renowned and abilities through the application of the same principle – repetition.

Michael Jordan was well known to be among the last to leave the court after training. To him, it was always critical to complete a minimum of 500 free throws before he allowed himself time out after each training.

Likewise, David Beckham was also among the last to leave the Manchester United Training ground during his apprenticeship at the club’s Youth Academy. It was noted that David would tie rubber tyres to the goal posts and attempt to swing his shots through the tyres as a training of precision in dead ball situations.

The result of their dedication to doing the same thing over and over again until the desired result is achieved is apparent to all who knows basketball and soccer. Michael Jordan became at one point in time the best NBA Player in history and David’s Beckham’s reputation as a deadball specialist in the world of football continues to shine.

Like any other skill, social skills such as networking, public speaking and inter-personal communication are skills that can be honed through practice and repetition. Through my involvement and experience at Toastmasters Club meetings, I’ve witnessed several individuals who’ve improved leaps and bounds as they moved from delivering one speech to the next. The same thing with social networking and communication skills.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. It is only through repetition and a dedication to improvement that can help us move towards the level of skill and competency that we desire.

Body Language

Research has shown that only 7% of a message is represented by words. The remaining 28% is made up by tone and 65% body language!

I found the following clip, which features the Whose Line cast, a positive example of using body language to amplify the message that they’re trying to bring across.

Pay attention to Brad (the Bartender)’s and Colin (the second guy)’s facial expression, and Wayne’s body language in the scene!

A Man and his Ferrari

More humour stories!


A man walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. He tells the loan officer that he is going to China on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.

The bank officer tells him that the bank will need some form of security for the loan, so the Chinese man hands over the keys to a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank. He produces the title and everything checks out.

The loan officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. The bank’s president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the man for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan.

An employee of the bank then drives the Ferrari into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there.

Two weeks later, the Chinese returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multi-millionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bo ther to borrow $5,000?”

The man replies: Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be ther e when I return?”

The Need for Humour

Can anybody imagine a world without laughter? Or pleasure or amusement. Ain’t that great?

Absolutely not!

We all need some fun in our lives don’t we? Humour is a great tool for fun and amusement. It’s a vital part of our mental and emotional well being. And it’s great for networking and building relationships!

I’ve created a “Humour Category” here to share with everyone some interesting jokes which you may wish to use the next time you need to brighten up a conversation or atmosphere when you’re with someone important.