Start With A Laugh - An Insider's Guide To Roasts, Toasts, Eulogies And Other Speeches Review
By Liz Carpenter
Say Something Funny
Liz Carpenter's Start With A Laugh is an insightful, interesting book which offers many useful lessons on making speeches, toasts, eulogies and other events. If you occasionally find yourself in the position of making occasional presentations or make some brief remarks, this book contains much useful insight.
Liz Carpenter lives in Austin, TX, and has been an active figure for years. She was a press reporter in the 1940's and 50's covering FDR, Truman and Eisenhauer. With the ascension of Lyndon Baines Johnson to President, she became the press secretary for Lady Bird Johnson. Since then she worked in the Carter Administration, and has been active in women's rights and Texas Democrat politics.
The book's main lesson is to start speeches "with a laugh." Perhaps relate a humorous story either about yourself or whom you are speaking. "Today, as one of the few standing liberal Democrats left in Bushwhacked, Texas, I have to laugh a lot," she explains. Whether or not you agree with her political views, her anecdotes and views illustrate the lessons of speaking, and she accomplishes this well.
My mother always told us, Try to see the humor in the situation. So, I learned early in life that humor diverts, energizes, and heals.
Carpenter reprints many of her speeches, which are all very humorous. She writes a lot about how Presidents of the United States have utilized humor, a subject that I found very interesting. Because of her close associations, she relates a number of stories about LBJ and Jimmy Carter, but also Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan too.
Her chapter on toasts is very useful. Many of us can use this opportunity to properly tune our skills when we honor a friend or guest of honor at a dinner or banquet. In the book, she reprints her public toasts to Lady Bird Johnson, retired Austin Congressman Jake Pickle and local humorist Cactus Pryor.
The book includes a useful chapter on welcoming groups to your home city. She reprints a humorous speech welcoming members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to Austin.
Whether you're welcoming people to Texas, New York City, or Podunk, you have the same requirements. You're got to introduce the city in a warm and inviting way, and you've got to do it in a hurry: Most welcoming remarks are brief, lasting only two to five minutes, unless you are asked for a 30-minute brag.
Don't highlight the area's main attractions - everyone knows about them. Skim over the obvious charms that everyone expects you to herald, and exaggerate the heck out of the little-known ones. Your words must inspire the listener to want to get out and roam the place as soon as you stop talking.
I've met a number of historical tourguides who could really use reading this chapter The book also contains advise on eulogies, speaking to high-tech groups, commencement speeches and speeches for worthy causes.
Whether you enjoy reading some of Carpenter's inside information on interesting figures, or you want specifically to hone your speechwriting skills, Start With A Laugh delivers. Plus, her advise, tips and humorous anecdotes are available to crib at no charge!
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