The more we laugh, the less stress we have in our lives – and we certainly have lots of laughs at our club
by CRAIG ROSS
Health and wellbeing may not generally be considered a laughing matter, but for one Sunshine Coast Toastmasters International club laughter is indeed the best medicine.
Formerly known as The Comedy Club, Humour’Us Toastmasters prides itself on being the home for Toastmasters International members who take their humour seriously.
Club president Lorraine Lehmann says Humour’Us Toastmasters is the brainchild of fellow founding members Clare Horan and Tracey Head, who recognise the importance of humour to our everyday lives and its effectiveness as a means of communication.
“They’re extremely funny ladies and they’ve both won (district) Toastmasters humorous competitions, so they felt that there was a need to have a humorous club,” Lorraine says.
“They looked into it and we had a meeting and it all came from there. We got our 20 members, we charted (the club) and it’s still going, which is wonderful.”
There is no shortage of research espousing the benefits laughter has on our health and mental wellbeing, which suggests the Humour’Us crew are a happy and healthy lot.
“Our club is all about laughing, it’s about fun,” Lorraine says. “Humour’Us Toastmasters is an advanced club, attracting experienced Toastmasters, and it’s all about using humour to deliver our message in a clear and precise way.
“I’ve heard so many speeches about laughter being the best medicine. The more we laugh, the less stress we have in our lives – and we certainly have lots of laughs at our club.
“We just decided that it’s important for people to laugh and it’s important for people to have fun, but it’s also important for us all to be able to deliver a serious message in a fun way (because) when you laugh, you remember messages a lot better.”
Any who doubted the viability of such a club at the time of its founding soon found that the joke was on them.
Each of the club’s monthly meetings is based on a theme (recent examples being ‘classic cartoons’ and ‘fractured fairy tales’), with members encouraged to employ all manner of comedic approaches including satire, puns, dad jokes, spoonerisms and alliteration to get their message across.
But there’s a lot more to all this funny business than may initially meet the eye. One thing that Lorraine is serious about is the benefits that Toastmasters International brings to club members.
“Toastmasters is all about building leadership skills and self-confidence,” she says. “And it’s always done in a very supportive way.
“The people you meet are amazing and building self-confidence is important, particularly if you need it in your workplace.
“I’ve heard people say that they are more scared of public speaking than they are of dying. To me, that’s sad. Why fear getting up in front of people and putting your point across or delivering your message?”
Lorraine, a teacher who is also a member of the Caloundra Toastmasters International Club, says she has seen many Toastmasters members start out as nervous speakers before going on to become eloquent presenters, something that provides her with great satisfaction.
“I started with Toastmasters 22 years ago,” she says. “I don’t stay for me; I stay for the people that come in through the door.
“I think a lot of the experienced Toastmasters feel like that. To see people come in from all walks of life and to see them develop, to me, is like teaching a student and seeing them flourish and getting an incredible job at the end.
“There’s nothing wrong with making yourself a better person and that’s what Toastmasters certainly does. It helps provide that growth that’s needed to make you a better person.”
Although an advanced club, those interested in becoming members or who wish to see what all the fun is about are encouraged to attend Humour’Us meetings. Those attending are welcome to attend the pre-meeting dinner and participate in the warm-up discussions that constitute part of the meeting, or simply look on if they are uncomfortable about speaking.
Lorraine says new attendees will soon discover that all speakers are met by a supportive audience eager to help them on their speaking journey.
“It’s a supportive environment where you know you can’t fail,” she says. “If you stand up and you can’t get the words out, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got people in the audience who are going to support you no matter what and you always get helpful feedback on what you do well and what could be improved.”
So what is Lorraine’s advice for those about to experience a fate apparently worse than death, such as speaking at a wedding or delivering a work presentation?
“My little tip is to take three deep breaths and that just fills your brain with oxygen and gets your braining thinking,” she says. “Preparation is important too. If you have to give a speech, be prepared. Have it thought out beforehand and practice it a number of times before you deliver it.”
Humour’Us Toastmasters meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Alexandra Headland Surf Club. Their next meeting is on Thursday, May 12. Club members gather for an optional dinner at the venue’s dining area at 6pm with meetings following at 7pm. For more information contact the Humour’Us Toastmasters International Club via its Facebook page or email email@example.com.