Many years ago, in Chicago at the Drake Hotel, while at a dinner at a W.A.D.E Convention ( World Association of Document Examiners) several people gave after dinner speeches. After each speech one man at my table would say, “He’s a Toastmaster” or “”He’s not a Toastmaster.” I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally I asked. “What’s a toastmaster?” He looked at me incredulously and said “You’ve never heard of Toastmasters?” I shook my head. He explained that it’s a worldwide organization that teaches people how to speak properly in public. He said, “As a Document Examiner it would do you good. It gives you confidence and teaches you to think on your feet. When you’re on the witness stand, you don’t want ums and ahs.”
When I got back to Montreal, I found there were several clubs. Phil and I joined the Mount Royal Toastmasters Club. They met once a week. When we joined it was at Piazza Tomasso Restaurant, where Magic Tom Auburn was the resident Magician. We were members for years. In 1989 both Phil and I received our Competent Toastmasters Certificates, and later other pins and badges. It was fun, exciting, and we made lots of good friends. We saw people come in who couldn’t put two words together and come out as accomplished and entertaining speakers.
At one point, due to other obligations, we stopped attending, and then we got a call from John Gupta, an active member and leader, who asked Phil if he would act as the Master of Ceremonies for the 25th Anniversary of the Mount Royal Toastmasters Club. We went and there was a good crowd and after acknowledging the dignitaries Phil said “When John asked me to be the emcee I really didn’t know what I would do, what could I possibly offer you. Then I had an idea.” And with the word idea, the first D’LIte went on in his hand, which he held up high. And off. Then he continued, “I would pass the knowledge I (light went on) had gained onto you (light went off in one hand and went to the other, which was pointing towards the audience).”
I don’t remember much what he said after that. It was years ago, but I do remember that after dinner everyone came over to him and asked if you had to be a magician to buy the lights and what an impression it left.
I often have presenters coming in telling me they have to give a speech and what could they do to make it more interesting. One man was a rep. for a fertilizer company. He ended up with the Growing Glove. His line was that he was working with gloves in the garden to test the fertilizer and he accidently got some on his gloves.
Another presenter was an engineer. Never did magic before and went out of his mind when I did the Bill Tube for him. He didn’t want to buy it as he said he could never do that. I showed him how it was done and he bought it on the spot. “A room of engineers! Not one of them wil figure it out!” he said with glee.
The point is, if you’re a presenter, you don’t have to do a magic show. Just get their attention once and you’ll have them for the rest of the evening. I was asked to speak at a dinner for Hydo Ontario, also many years ago, at their convention. Before I said a word I put my hand around the microphone stand and sparks came flying out. Remember the Funken Ring? I said, “is there an electrician in the house?” Got a great laugh and their attention. It was a terrific evening.
Likewise, if you are performing magic, and its a show where speaking is involved, you should know how to speak. If you want to improve go to Toastmasters!
Unfortunately, there is no more W.A.D.E., there is no longer Piassa Tomasso, there is no longer Magic Tom Auburn and there is no Mount Royal Toastmasters Club although there are many others and I’m not sure if there are any more Funken Rings. Things change.