Monday, March 27, 2017

Speech #2: Always leave them wanting more

[Toastmaster Project 2: Organize your Speech.  Objectives: Select an organization, strong opening and closing.]

Madam Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, honored guests.

The showman P T Barnum once famously said, Always leave them wanting more. That is my topic tonight.

I'll offer several examples, mostly from my personal experience.

First, let me cite two examples from pop culture to put it in perspective.

Happy Days was a popular TV show that ran for 11 seasons. But after 7 seasons the writers began running out of ideas. They should have left them wanting more. In one episode Fonzi on water skis had to jump over a shark. Ever since that day, “jumping the shark” has become show business jargon for overstaying your welcome.

Jerry Seinfeld did the opposite. He decided to terminate his TV series after 7 seasons just when the shows popularity was at its zenith. Seinfeld wisely avoided jumping the shark.

Now for an example from family life

In the 90s, my family lived in Burlington Vermont. One son moved away, but two of our three children were finished with school, but were still living at home. One of them got married and a daughter in law was added to the household. Soon thereafter the daughter in law got pregnant. You can see where that was heading. My wife and Imoved to another state into a tiny house with only room the two of us. We left those children wanting more, but chicks who fail to leave the nest early enough, sometimes need a little shove.

I have examples from my work l ife.

On seven occasions I felt that my work was becoming repetitive, so I impulsively quit my job, sometimes without having a new job lined up first. Twice I moved overseas with my family. Twice we moved back again. Several times I went unemployed for months. But in all seven cases, I learned after the fact that my ex employers said that I was welcome to come back at any time in the future. In every case, I departed leaving them wanting more.
Here is an experience from my sailing life

Sailors use the word passage to refer to a sea voyage. A passage begins with great anticipation and a surge of exhilaration. At the end of a passage you get to shout “LAND HO” That land ho moment is emotionally laden. You feel “Whew. Once again we survived yet another passage. What a relief.” If the passage was difficult, perhaps one with bad weather or one where you had do deal with emergencies, the relief was even more intense, but perhaps tempered by a sense of accomplisment.

In our 12 year cruising life, my wife and I rode that exhiliration-relief emotional roller coaster four times every year. But toward the end, I noticed a change. My anticipation of coming passages gradually shifted from exhilaration towards dread. Mid passage, out at sea, my thoughts began to turn toward “I don't want to do this any more.”

But my wife Libby didn't share those feelings. Her love of the open sea grew more intense each passing year. What to do? As captain, my wishes prevailed and we now cruise only part time.

In this case, Always leave them wanting more is a melancholy experience.

My blog provides another example.

I write a blog nearly every day. So far, I have posted 2908 articles on my blog without jumping the shark. Except once. OK, now I'll have to tell you what that one time. One day, sailing past the beach at Sandy Hook New Jersey, I was curious about the relationship between key words and the number of people who found my blog with Google searches. So I wrote a blog post that repeated the phrases nude beach and naked women more than 30 times. It did not increase my readership.

I have a loyal base of about 500 readers. Some of them are attracted by the subject matter. They are armchair sailors who dream of living the cruising life themselves and live it vicariously via my blog. Others seem to be true fans who just like my writing style, no matter what the subject. More than a dozen of them told me that they went back to the start and read every one of those articles. One man told me that he printed the whole history, more than 3000 pages, on the color printer at work and spent two weeks at work reading them.

But now as I back away from full time cruising, my supply of material to write about is getting thin. Rather than jumping the shark, I choose to leave them wanting more and publish much less often.

That brings us to this evening.

Standing at the podium, delivering a speech to a Toastmasters Club.

I say, "Always leave them wanting ..."

Madam Toastmaster, thank you.

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