Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

high school studentI did a seminar recently for a group of high school seniors. I was told they were not necessarily underachievers, but had no firm plans after graduation. Some had thought about college, a job or the military, but most seemed only interested in hanging around waiting for something to happen. The common thread was a strong case of “Senioritis” and a short attention span for remaining school requirements.

The teacher that sponsored the seminar told me previous speakers had used the standard follow your dreams advice and ended up with a group of bored and distracted students. They had heard the same message since preschool days watching Barney and Friends, and he was concerned it didn’t say enough about what they would encounter in the real world.

Even though I don’t wear a purple dinosaur outfit, I’m the last person to discourage anyone from following their dreams. But the reality of the real world is not everyone will win The Voice or have their idea bankrolled on Shark Tank. My assignment that day was to keep the students interested and involved in my seminar on communication skills and share practical real world advice.

But as usual, I also had my own agenda…

Everyone has a talent and a desire for something. It may not even involve becoming The Voice or the next Bill Gates. But whatever it might be, it doesn’t have much of a chance becoming a reality by “hanging around waiting for something to happen.”

Groucho 2

The Wacky Professor

Lucky for me, the seminar was in the school’s library. So I opened with a very effective follow your dreams message by pulling two of my books from the shelf. It got their attention. Then to hold their attention (staring at book covers for more than ten seconds is not as interesting as checking text messages for most high school students), I turned the attention to them.

I asked about their personal interests.

With this particular group of students, no one said a word about math, science or history. They talked about music, poetry, fashion and art. And when they expressed their ideas, the enthusiasm was obvious. They wanted to talk about it and involve the others. I imagined it was quite different than their normal participation in math, science or history classes.

So I took it a step further and asked for two volunteers. Most of them raised their hands (probably unlike during the classes mentioned above), but since we had a limited amount of time until the class bell, we could only go with two.

One was a girl into fashion and the other a boy who played guitar.

I told the girl she was going to tell us about her favorite sweater. With the boy, we wanted to know about his dream guitar. Then I gave them a quick assignment. I asked each to write down twothoughts about their item. I wanted to know:

  1. How owning the item it made them feel and…
  2. How owning the same item could make someone else feel.

Then they would each talk about their item in a way that would convince the other students they HAD to have either the sweater or the guitar.

Sounds like a sales pitch – doesn’t it?

Then I borrowed an exercise from my stand-up comedy workshops. I told them to imagine we were at a party. All their friends had told interesting and funny stories – and now it was their chance to talk. How would they tell us about their item in a creative way that would express their feelings AND make us laugh?

This is similar to an audience participation game I use at conferences with business people and educators looking to improve their communication skills. In a nutshell, the idea is to make your message more effective while using creative and humorous enhancements to keep it interesting.

Guitar PlayerIf I could, for my next business conference seminar I’d bring these students with me, take a seat in the audience and let them talk. She basically told the other girls how great they would look in her sweater and how, of course, they would attract more boys. He told the guys how they could look like rock stars with his dream guitar and of course, attract more girls.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

Yes, they were a lot goofier (for lack of a better term) than you’d expect during a real business world sales pitch or networking opportunity. But the end result was the same.

* They held our attention by delivering their message in a way we found very entertaining and memorable.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

In this case it was using creativity and humor to express and share their interests. In the case of high school students, their interests are what could determine future careers. For others in the real business world already pursuing careers, looking to expand or even make a change, better communication leads to better opportunities. The real world is competitive and to stand out from the competition you must know how to express yourself in a productive and interesting way.

Sounds like the average television commercial – doesn’t it?

Better communication leads to better opportunities. And along with that purple dinosaur, I’m not going to tell anyone they shouldn’t try to make their dreams come true. Sometimes it all depends on how you communicate them.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, speaker, trainer, and nationally recognized humor and comedy coach. For information about training seminars and keynotes for your next event or conference visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

Anger Management

Was It Something I Said?

If I made a list of embarrassing experiences in my life, this wouldn’t even be considered. But I’ll share because it points out the importance of knowing your listener (comedians call it knowing your audience). It was a situation when humor didn’t work in my favor.

We were in the Las Vegas Airport catching a flight to St. Louis. I was traveling with my flight attendant wife Debbie, who can breeze through security while I wait in line with other VIP wannabe’s.

As a seasoned traveler I’ve learned to shove everything into a carry-on suitcase that will be shoved through the security checkpoint on a conveyor belt. I once considered wearing flip-flops to make taking off my shoes an easier process, but Debbie dashed that idea with sarcastic flight attendant advice:

Would you want to run out of a burning wreckage in flip-flops?” My non-sarcastic answer is to always travel in running shoes.

FabioI placed my suitcase and shoes on the conveyor belt and followed the guy in front of me to go through the body scanner. He was a few inches over six feet, had longish hair and looked like he worked out. For our purposes we’ll call him Fabio.

There were two conveyor belts through security, but only one body scanner in the middle. The line was a “Y” shape with passengers coming from both directions. At least I thought that was the case. I’m assuming Fabio did also because after shoving his suitcase onto the conveyor belt he simply stepped into the line. The guy behind him moved forward and I took my place behind him.

This guy wasn’t as tall or well built as Fabio. For our purposes, let’s call him Homer Simpson. I think you’ll get the picture in your mind. I stood in line behind Homer.

Homer turned and asked if I’d also like to go in front of him. I thought that was a very nice gesture. It’s too bad I didn’t recognize the sarcasm in his voice.

No, that’s alright,” I replied. “I’ll just go behind you.” And then I smiled and attempted a joke about not being in a hurry. With hindsight, it didn’t have the friendly effect I thought it would.

If I had x-ray vision like airport security I might have seen steam building up in Homer’s brain and shooting out his ears. I watched him go through the scanner, took my turn, and then grabbed my suitcase and tied my running shoes.

Then I was confronted with what was actually going on in Homer’s steam-filled mind.

HomerI began walking to my gate and noticed Homer talking to a woman and young girl. I’ll assume they were his wife and daughter and for our purposes we’ll call them Marge and… well, I’ll skip The Simpson’s reference, but I’m sure you’ll get the picture. His face was red and looked angry as he pointed his finger toward me.

Suddenly Marge RAN at me, started YELLING and ACCUSED me of cutting in line. I noticed Fabio was within shouting distance, but Marge said nothing to him. He continued walking and once again I followed, but at a faster pace since an angry looking Marge wasn’t on my itinerary of sights to see in Las Vegas.

At this point, Homer yelled something about me laughing at him and called me an “Arrogant ****!

I stopped. It was only for very brief moment, but long enough to say, “Don’t talk to me like that.”

Now, this may sound like a confrontation about to get out of control, but it wasn’t going to happen. Many years ago in New York City my karate instructor gave us the best advice for self-defense. The first step in avoiding a potentially bad situation is to walk away. Only react with our training when it was absolutely necessary. I continued walking from what was already a bad situation and toward my flight gate.

Homer 2But I was hit with a very uncomfortable realization. Maybe there was no “Y” for two lines at security. Perhaps Fabio had also innocently (or on purpose?) cut in and I blindly followed. If this was the case, it was an honest mistake. And if Homer had calmly said, “The line starts back there,” I would have followed the rules of civilized people and taken my place at the end.

Instead his sarcasm did not communicate that message. And my humor only poured fuel on a simmering fire.

A simple statement would have corrected my mistake. But what I found not so simple was how fast he reacted with intense anger. If this type of reaction is a normal occurrence in front of their young daughter, what is this teaching her about adult behavior?

And what if Homer had turned his anger at Fabio instead of me? My guess is that he might have walked away with a few bruises – both to his body and ego. That would’ve only made the situation worse.

Humor is an important conversational enhancement to build business and personal relationships. But as mentioned earlier, it’s important to know your audience and when to use it.

With this experience I did not know the situation or my audience. But displaying a sense of humor or a smile would normally be received as a positive gesture. And even if there is disagreement, it should inspire a non-confrontational response. It was too bad Homer didn’t read it that way because the problem would’ve been simple to correct.

When I told Debbie what happened we both knew how to “fix” the situation. We had lunch and a few laughs, which was a lot less stressful and more fun than steaming over a miscommunication meltdown. Next time I’ll pay more attention to airport security lines, while also practicing Anger Management by keeping a sense of humor in case a Fabio wannabe or anyone else cuts ahead.

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Comment? Please use the form below. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always – keep laughing!

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Dave Schwensen is a nationally recognized comedy coach and author of six books including How To Be A Working Comic. He has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. Dave is a keynote speaker and training seminar leader (for your next event!) and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences on communication skills, comedy and pop culture.

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

For information about scheduling Dave’s training seminar or interactive keynote for your next event, or for any comments please use the contact form below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com

Copyright 2017 – North Shore Publishing

Top 10 Networking Jokes for 2014

This is the time of year when a lot of us become David Letterman impersonators. Instead of running to the refrigerator during television commercials, we sit on the couch and think about the year that’s just ending and come up with Top Ten Lists.

Could be good stuff – or could be bad stuff. In our case, we’ll focus on the funny stuff.

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We’re going to miss Dave in 2015!

To close out another year of yucks and to honor the original during his final months as host of The Late Show with David Letterman, I’ve gone through the Jokes of the Week submitted by readers for 2014 and came up with the Top Ten. Of course I always point out that sending in a joke submission is a networking opportunity because I’ll include links for your sites. A couple of the following yuck-ster’s forgot to do that or were promoting shows that have already ended. Otherwise, when there’s a link I hope you’ll check it out!

So without further delay – in order of the date they appeared – here are…

The Top Ten Networking Jokes for 2014:

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1 – January 14, 2014

“I’m getting stronger! I added 10 pounds to my workout weight, which is good and bad. I only do push ups.” – Risky Betts, riskybetts.com

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2 – February 4, 2014

British Airways Shortly after a British Airways flight had reached its cruising altitude, the captain announced: “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain. Welcome to Flight 293, non-stop from London Heathrow to New York .The weather ahead is good, so we should have a smooth uneventful flight. So, sit back, relax, and………OH… MY GOD!” Silence followed.

Some moments later, the captain came back on the intercom. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sorry if I scared you. While I was talking to you, a flight attendant accidentally spilled coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!” From the back of the plane, an Irish passenger yelled……. “For the luvva Jaysus……you should see the back of mine!” – Brian Luomawww.facebook.com/brian.luoma

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3 – March 11, 2014

A very attractive woman walks into a bar and sees a man giving her an overly attentive stare. She takes the seat next to him and says, “I’ll do anything, absolutely anything you want for me to do for $100 dollars on one condition – you have to tell me in just three words.” The man pulls out 5 twenty dollar bills, looks deeply into her eyes and slowly, meaningfully says, “Paint My House!” – Jerry X. Shea, www.jerryxshea.com

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4 – March 25, 2014

A cowboy rides into town, stops at the local saloon, goes in and orders two “red eyes.” He throws them down and goes outside. His horse is missing. He goes back into the bar and says, “I’m going to have two more red eyes and if my horse isn’t back the same thing is going to happen here as happened in Tombstone.”

There is a shuffling of feet and everyone looks at the floor. He throws down the two red eyes and as he goes outside, the barman joins him and there is his horse. Curious, the barman looked at him and asked, “What happened in Tombstone?” “I had to walk home,” said the cowboy. – Lou Harrison-Smith, www.linkedin.com/in/tourswithoutequal

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5 – April 22, 2014

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”

There is a silence; then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?” – Dr. Cynthia Shelby Lane (shared as winner of funniest joke U.K.), shelbylanemd.com

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6 – June 3, 2014

There was a blonde in the audience watching a show by a ventriloquist. The ventriloquist proceeded to do quite a few blonde jokes. The blonde became very upset, stood up and said, “Those are offensive and I don’t appreciate you using them in your act!”

The ventriloquist stepped forward, apologized and said, “I’m sorry, I won’t do anymore blonde jokes.” The blonde, completely exasperated stomped her foot, pointed her finger at the dummy and shouted, “NO, I’m talking to YOU!!” – Debbie

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7 – August 25, 2014

Monk joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence. Every ten years he’s allowed to go to the Head Monk and say two words, which he does after ten years and says, “Food cold!” The Head Monk says, “OK, we’ll see what we can do about that.” The monk goes back to his worship for ten years in silence and his time comes again to go before the Head. When the Head asks for his two words, the monk says, “Bed hard!” The Head says, “OK, we’ll see what we can do” and the monk goes back to his devotion in silence.

Ten more years pass and it’s the monk’s opportunity for two words again. He goes to the Head and says, “I quit!” The Head Honk replies, “Well, I’m not surprised. You’ve been complaining ever since you got here.” – Marc Jaffe, Shaking With Laughter

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8 – September 17, 2014

“Where do Zombies go to buy their home accessories? Of course… Dead, Bath and Beyond.” – Dave Weiser, https://www.facebook.com/dweiser

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9 – October 14, 2014

“I’m adopted. And there are certain advantages to being adopted. Like, you can date relatives.” – Don Cooper, doncooper.wix.com/dccomedy

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10 – November 11, 2014

A man and his wife are at a restaurant, and the husband keeps staring at a drunken woman downing drinks at a nearby table. His wife asks, “Do you know her?” “Yeah,” sighs the husband. “She’s my ex-wife. She started drinking right after our divorce ten years ago and hasn’t been sober since.

“My God!” says his wife. “Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?!” – Barbi B.

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, nationally-recognized comedy coach, and CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for video conferences. For information about scheduling Dave’s interactive keynote and training seminars for your next event, visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Have a comment? Please use the link below – I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright 2015 – North Shore Publishing

Top Ten Networking Jokes for 2013

Thank you once again for allowing me to stay in touch with these newsletters. As you know my focus is on using communication skills enhanced with humor and creativity. But today I’ve decided to forgo the “enhanced” version and go right for the laughs.

It’s a good way to communicate.

I’ve gone through the Jokes of the Week submitted by newsletter readers in 2013 and came up with the funniest ten. Of course I always point out that sending in a joke submission is a networking opportunity because I’ll include a link for your business or event website. Some of the following yuck-ster’s forgot to do that or were promoting events that have already ended. Otherwise, when there’s a link please take a look to see what these funny people are up to.

Keep Laughing!! – Dave Schwensen

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You’re Talking – But Is Anyone Really Listening?

Top Ten Networking Jokes

1. The owner of a golf course in the south was confused about paying an invoice. So he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, “Y’all went to college and I need some help. If I was to give you $20,000 minus 14%, how much would you take off?”

The secretary thought for a moment and then replied, “Every-thang but my earrings.” – Terry Jones

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2. A woman is teaching her dog some basic tricks. She said, “Sit” and the dog sat.  She said, “Beg” and the dog put his paws up.  She said, ‘lie” and the dog said, “My!  You’re looking lovely today.” – Bob Simpson, LINK 

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3. A cowboy rides into town, stops at the local saloon, goes in and orders two “red eyes” goes outside and his horse has had its tail painted blue. The cowboy comes back into the saloon and says I’ll have two red eyes and I want to know who painted my horse blue. A fellow about six foot six , three axe handles across the shoulders in white overalls with blue pain on stands up and says “and who wants to know”.

The cowboy says, “I just wanted to let you know the first coat is dry. – Lou Harrison-Smith, LINK

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4. A long line at the bank. Three tellers working. Guy goes up to the middle teller, pulls out a gun and says, “This is a robbery. Put all the money in the bag and don’t say or do anything or I’ll shoot you.”

The teller complies and he looks to the right and there’s a woman standing there staring at him. “Did you see anything here?” he asks. “Yes, I…” BANG he shoots her.

He looks to his left and another woman is staring at him. “Did you just see anything here?” “Well, umm, yes, I…” BANG he shoots her.

He turns around and there is a man next in line and he asks him if he saw anything. He says, “No sir, I didn’t see anything… but my wife here…” – Marc Jaffe (founder of Shaking With Laughter fundraiser to fight Parkinson’s) LINK

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5. Coming into town I saw the flag at the Fire Station was at half mast.  I said to the lady ‘Somebody die?’   She said ‘Yeah, the guy pulling it all the way to the top.’ – Charlie Adams

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6. Hospital regulations require a wheel chair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet, who insisted he didn’t need my help to leave the hospital.

After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator. On the way down I asked him if his wife was meeting him.

‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘She’s still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.’ – Joanie

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7. “Why did the Little Mermaid wear seashells? Because D-shells were too big.” – Debbie the Flight Attendant

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8. Morris Schwartz is on his deathbed, knows the end is near, is with his nurse, his wife, his daughter and 2 sons. “So”, he says to them:

 ”Bernie, I want you to take the Beverly Hills houses.”

 ”Sybil, take the apartments over in Los Angeles Plaza.”

 ”Hymie, I want you to take the offices over in City Center.”

 ”Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings downtown.”

The nurse is just blown away by all this, and as Morris slips away, she says , “Mrs. Schwartz, your husband must have been such a hard working man to have accumulated all this property”.

Sarah replies, “Property? … the schmuck has a paper route!” – Joel Schwartz, LINK

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9. A lady hires a plumber to come to her house and fix her sink. On the phone, she tells him that she won’t be home but she’ll leave a check for his services on the counter. Then she adds, “I have a pit bull and a parrot. Don’t worry – the pit bull is a good dog and will not bother you but whatever you do, don’t talk to the parrot!”

The plumber goes to the house and sure enough, he is able to get in and passes the pit bull without a problem. He begins his work only to hear the parrot begin to scream and screech, “Hey there, stupid! What are you doing, you big goof?! Who’s stupid and goofy, stupid and goofy, stupid and goofy!”

Finally the plumber can’t take it anymore and he turns around and faces the parrot and shouts, “That’s it Parrot! You’re doomed! Now I’m coming after you!”

The parrot looks a the dog and says, “Sick’em Angela.” – Sally Edwards, Author of Comedy MomLINK

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10. Two brothers are terrible trouble makers. They are always breaking things, stealing things, lying and making all kinds of general trouble. The parents have tried everything to get the boys to change, to no avail. Finally out of options, they ask their pastor if he can help. He says he will talk to the boys, but only one at a time.

The parents drop off the youngest and go home, promising to return to get him soon. The boy sits in a chair across from the pastor’s desk and they just look at each other. Finally the pastor says, “Where is God?”

The boy just sits there and doesn’t answer. The pastor begins to look stern and loudly says, “Where is God?”

The little boy shifts in his seat, but still doesn’t answer. The pastor is starting to get angry at the boy’s refusal to converse and practically shouts, “Where is God?!” To the pastor’s surprise, the little boy jumps out of his chair and runs out of the office.

The boy runs all the way home, up the stairs and into his brother’s room. He shuts the door and pants, “We’re in BIG TROUBLE. God’s missing and they think we did it!” – Rob Telecky (Comics For Kids Fundraiser – University Hospital, Cleveland)

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Dave Schwensen has designed and instructs university courses in communications and presentation skills. He is an author, keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, and nationally-recognized comedy coach. He is a CILC Pinnacle Award Winner for conferences on communication skills. For information about scheduling Dave’s interactive keynote or training seminars for your next event, visit www.TalkingForSuccess.com

For Dave’s author page on Amazon.com CLICK HERE.

Have a comment? Please use the link below or send an email to dave@davepresents.com – I’d love to hear from you.

Copyright 2014 – North Shore Publishing