Back from the District Conference

OK, I am back from the District 59 Toastmasters Conference in Hamburg, Germany where I competed in the Humorous Speech Contest.  The conference was held in a hotel just off the Reeperbahn, which made for a unique venue.

Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

As usual, it was a great time.  The best part about the weekend was the people.  This was my fourth District Conference and it was great to see other Toastmasters from around Europe who have now become good friends. You learn a lot during these weekends and I encourage Toastmasters who have not been to a District Conference to try to attend one in the future.  As I said in a previous post, they add a whole new dimension to the Toastmasters experience.

As for the contests, well, I had a good weekend as it turned out. Representing the International Geneva Toastmasters, I placed first in both the Humorous Speech Contest and the Table Topics (impromptu speaking) Contest. Sometimes everything just clicks and this was one of those times. A good thing too as the competition was terrific.

My congratulations to my fellow competitors, especially (a) Claude Desroches (Berlin Toastmasters) and Peter Zinn (Utrecht Toastmasters) who took, respectively, second and third in Table Topics; and (b) Paul Rulkens (Eindhoven Toastmasters) and Lena Fredriksson (Gothenburg Toastmasters) who took, respectively, second and third in the Humorous Speech Contest.

The conference featured top speakers from 18 countries in Continental Europe. There were contests in English, French and German and also some great educational sessions. And of course, there was the gala dinner and dance which went on well into the night.

Here is my humorous speech. I had tremendous fun giving it and the audience was just great. Almost too great! They laughed so much in some places that I was afraid that I would run out of time! For those interested in competing in a humorous speech contest, I will try to analyze the speech in an upcoming post to give you my thoughts on how I constructed it. Meanwhile, enjoy!

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  1. Hey John,

    Congratulations from the TM club Rheinreder ( in Cologne, Germany.

    You truly rocked the audience.

    Thomas (VP ed)

    1. Thanks very much Thomas and everyone at the Club Rheinreder. Ich habe viel Spass gehabt mit meinem humorvollen Reden! (How’s that for bad German?)

  2. John, what a brilliant concept to use the concept of evaluating your wife as a way to defuse a tough situation. Wonderful take off on well known TM technqiues.

  3. Wonderful – and what a great subject. You were the perfect rational.
    I agree with your comments about Benjamin Zander’s speech. It’s one of the most moving I’ve ever heard, not only because he brilliantly explains music, but most of all because he is so generous with his soul.

  4. Thank you for a truly amazing speech! It both set a new standard for me regarding entertainment, and also gave me some creative ideas I must try out if I ever get the chance to get into a conflict with a woman!

    1. Thanks for the comments Mikael! Glad you enjoyed the speech. Let me know if you have any success with the “techniques” that I proposed. I am beginning to wonder whether I should have added a disclaimer in the event that things go wrong! 😉

  5. Brilliant. A laugh after 10 seconds, and they only got more. And a two-second punch line! A natural comic, and every word exactly chosen. Many thanks. Marcus

  6. Awesome speech! It’s given me lots of ideas for the female rebuttal!
    Look forward to the next one!
    Cardinals Toastmasters
    PS. I competed in London this year for the first time. I didn’t win the District Humorous Speaking Contest, but did win the Club and Area… what a great feeling to be able to make people laugh!

    1. Thank you, Laura. I look forward to the rebuttal. If we play our cards right, it will catch on and we can take the show on the road. Congratulations on your wins. Onward and upward!

  7. Hi John.
    Nicely crafted speech, well delivered. Thanks for the detailed dissection of the speech. Will certainly use what I have learnt in our upcoming club contests.
    Sailesh – Based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

  8. Hi John.
    Nicely crafted speech, well delivered. Thanks for the detailed dissection of the speech. Will certainly use what I have learnt in our upcoming club contests.
    BTW warm wishes for a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
    Sailesh – Based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International