Winning the humour hop-about contest

Humourous HopAbout Competition 24th November 2008 - Copy
Monday evening was the annual humour-hopabout contest, hosted by Table Bay Toastmasters club in Cape Town. Since I am a Toastmasters district officer, I am usually not allowed to enter contests. However, because this is not an official contest, I was able to enter.

The humour-hopabout contest has been running since 1980 and it always draws fierce competition, a large audience, and lots of laughter. To compete, you need to present a 3-4 minute long humorous speech. I believe that the more you speak, the more you learn (stage time), so I entered the contest.

Well, imagine my surprise when I won the contest with my speech, which examined the lighter side of mobile phones. Clearly, I must be learning something from the Champions Edge. I also re-listened to Darren?s Make em Laugh set the week before the contest, which helped me to focus on and edit my speech.

So, at least for the next year I am the humour champion in Cape Town!

43 Dos and 35 Don’ts of Public Speaing

In some ways, public speaking has changed dramatically over the last 100 years, but in others it as barely changed at all. 

Read about 78 lessons in public speaking from 1916 that are still as relevant today as there were in 1916.

These lists are from the book Talks on Talking by Grenville Kleiser. It was originally published in 1916, and it is amazing how almost 100 years later, the principles hold.


  1. Don’t rant.
  2. Don’t prate.
  3. Don’t fidget.
  4. Don’t flatter.
  5. Don’t declaim.
  6. Don’t be glib.
  7. Don’t hesitate.
  8. Don’t be nasal.
  9. Don’t apologize.
  10. Don’t dogmatize.
  11. Don’t be slangy.
  12. Don’t antagonize.
  13. Don’t be awkward.
  14. Don’t be violent.
  15. Don’t be personal.
  16. Don’t be “funny.”
  17. Don’t attitudinize.
  18. Don’t be monotonous.
  19. Don’t speak rapidly.
  20. Don’t sway your body.
  21. Don’t be long-winded.
  22. Don’t “hem” and “haw.”
  23. Don’t praise yourself.
  24. Don’t overgesticulate.
  25. Don’t pace the platform.
  26. Don’t clear your throat.
  27. Don’t “point with pride.”
  28. Don’t tell a long story.
  29. Don’t rise on your toes.
  30. Don’t distort your words.
  31. Don’t stand like a statue.
  32. Don’t address the ceiling.
  33. Don’t speak in a high key.
  34. Don’t emphasize everything.
  35. Don’t drink while speaking.
  36. Don’t fatigue your audience.
  37. Don’t exceed your time limit.
  38. Don’t talk for talking’s sake.
  39. Don’t wander from your subject.
  40. Don’t fumble with your clothes.
  41. Don’t speak through closed teeth.
  42. Don’t put your hands on your hips.
  43. Don’t fail to stop when you have ended.


  1. Be prepared.
  2. Begin slowly.
  3. Be modest.
  4. Speak distinctly.
  5. Address all your hearers.
  6. Be uniformly courteous.
  7. Prune your sentences.
  8. Cultivate mental alertness.
  9. Conceal your method.
  10. Be scrupulously clear.
  11. Feel sure of yourself.
  12. Look your audience in the eyes.
  13. Be direct.
  14. Favor your deep tones.
  15. Speak deliberately.
  16. Get to your facts.
  17. Be earnest.
  18. Observe your pauses.
  19. Suit the action to the word.
  20. Be yourself at your best.
  21. Speak fluently.
  22. Use your abdominal muscles.
  23. Make yourself interesting.
  24. Be conversational.
  25. Conciliate your opponent.
  26. Rouse yourself.
  27. Be logical.
  28. Have your wits about you.
  29. Be considerate.
  30. Open your mouth.
  31. Speak authoritatively.
  32. Cultivate sincerity.
  33. Cultivate brevity.
  34. Cultivate tact.
  35. End swiftly.

47 Phrases to avoid when speaking

This list is from the book Talks on Talking by Grenville Kleiser. It was originally published in 1916. While many of the phrases have fallen into disuse, it is amazing how many are still being used today! What do you think we should add to the list?

  1. I rise with diffidence
  2. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking
  3. By a happy stroke of fate
  4. It becomes my painful duty
  5. In the last analysis
  6. I am encouraged to go on
  7. I point with pride
  8. On the other hand (with gesture)
  9. I hold
  10. The vox populi
  11. Be that as it may
  12. I shall not detain you
  13. As the hour is growing late
  14. Believe me
  15. We view with alarm
  16. As I was about to tell you
  17. The happiest day of my life
  18. It falls to my lot
  19. I can say no more
  20. In the fluff and bloom
  21. I can only hint
  22. I can say nothing
  23. I cannot find words
  24. The fact is
  25. To my mind
  26. I cannot sufficiently do justice
  27. I fear
  28. All I can say is
  29. I shall not inflict a speech on you
  30. Far be it from me
  31. Rise phoenix-like from his ashes
  32. But alas!
  33. What more can I say?
  34. At this late period of the evening
  35. It is hardly necessary to say
  36. I cannot allow the opportunity to pass
  37. For, mark you
  38. I have already taken up too much time
  39. I might talk to you for hours
  40. Looking back upon my childhood
  41. We can imagine the scene
  42. I haven't the time nor ability
  43. Ah, no, dear friends
  44. One more word and I have done
  45. I will now conclude
  46. I really must stop
  47. I have done.

Finding free photos for your PowerPoint presentations

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