Emceeing: a Barbershop St. Patrick’s Day script

Welcome!

Here is another Barbershop presentation script–for those eager to read Barbershop presentation scripts. Enjoy!

I’m Gordon Burgett, blogmaster of my own blog, which you are now reading. 90% of the posts here refer to writing, editing, publishing, speaking, and related commentary about selling one’s ideas and information.

The other 10% discuss emceeing, which is an extension of my speaking activities, which are in turn linked to the 2000+ paid presentations I’ve offered in the past 30 years. Still, the scripts shared here are to a special group I have been part of for about 16 years: barbershopping, first in Santa Maria, CA; more recently in Marin County (north of San Francisco), CA. Through these blogs I have exchanged scripts written and techniques learned with other script writers for their barbershop groups. (You may see the other emceeing script info by writing in “emceeing” in the search box upper right on this page.)

So this is a short script when the Marin County Golden Gate group sang at a St. Patrick’s day gathering which I found in a box of past (but shamefully unblogged) emceeing material. I think it took place in about 2013. Sadly, I don’t recall anything more. I suspect it was in the middle of a speaking tour across CA when I came home that day to emcee and sing, and in the rush to get back out to complete the tour I forgot to leave any more details. That’s it. You can see that I’m a real person at www.gordonburgett.com!

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Here, from the depths, is the script of this mysterious presentation:

Good evening, we are the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus, directed by Phil DeBar. I’m Gordon Burgett, and this dapper fellow is our Associate Director, Paul Wren, who Phil is about to ask to lead the group in “Danny Boy.”
———-

[I’ve lost the actual text here but I must have introduced Phil DeBar, our Director, and he gave a short, audience-involved demonstration of what barbershopping is about. He had the audience sing one of the four voices in a short song, to try their talents at harmonizing!

Then I asked Phil to lead the Chorus in “Amazing Grace.”]

——–

I continued:

“We’ve already heard some of our favorite Irish music and we’re enjoying St. Patrick’s Day festivities and food, so maybe a few Irish jokes would be in order.

Father Murphy, infused by religious fervor, swept into a bar in Donegal.

He grabbed the first man he saw and said, “Do you want to go to Heaven?”

“I do, father!” the man replied, so the priest told him to stand by the door.

Father Murphy turned to a lively lass and he asked her the same question.

“Oh yes, father, I do.” So he pointed at the door and suggested she join the other man already there.

Then Father Murphy saw Billy O’Toole shrinking in a corner, trying to be invisible.

“O’Toule,” he said. “What about you? Do you want to go to heaven?”

“Oh no, thank you, Father. No I don’t!” came a fast reply.

The priest looked bewildered and said “Are you telling me that when you die you don’t want to go to heaven?”

O’Toole replied, “Oh yes, Father, I do–but when I die. I thought you were rounding up a group to go right now!”

——-

Are you ready for some more music? But let me ask you first,

Does anybody have a birthday today? If so, would you raise your hand?

(If a hand went up, I’d ask them to stand up and tell us something about themselves because we had a gift for them.)

(If nobody responded, I’d ask, “If any of you had a birthday in the past year, would you raise your hand?” The moment the hands went up, the chorus broke into “Happy Birthday!”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I wished them all when the music ended, then I suggested they give themselves a hearty round of applause for having lived so long!

——–

When the chorus sat I asked, “How about some grand quartet singing?”

Not only can our first group make great sounds, they are international imports brought here today for your merriment. They come from four places, all hot beds of melody: fellows, raise your hands when I tell where you are from: our bass, ____ from Uruguay; ____ , the lead from England; ____, the baritone, from Texas, and ________, our tenor, from the Bronx. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Opus IV!

————-

Our second quartet has lesser pedigrees—they come from Fairfax, San Rafael, Mill Valley, and Point Reyes. Let’s welcome ____, ____, ____, and ___ (they stepped forward when I gave their names). They are called the MarinTones…

————

You surely heard about Poor Paddy and his life of sorrow and pain. But things finally changed for Paddy–and it happened on St. Patrick’s Day too. He had found the love of his life, and had promised to mend his ways, particularly about not forgetting about their dates and that he would never again be as much as one minute late.

So you can imagine his distress when he arrived at the restaurant to dine with his sweetheart and he couldn’t find a parking spot!

Around the block he drove, then two blocks. He was in a panic when he pulled over and prayed: LORD, take pity on me! If you’ll find me a parking place I’ll go to MASS every Sunday of my life, I’ll quit drinking Irish whiskey, I’ll.…

Just then the car parked in front of him pulled out.

He looked to heaven and shouted as loud as he could, “NEVER MIND! I’ve found one!”

———-

How about two more songs from the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus, directed by Phil DeBar?

Get ready to “Turn Your Radio On…”, then a favorite oldie, “I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad.”

——–

It’s surely unfair and unkind to mix an Irish holiday, an Irishman, and some of the best brewed Gallic grog in the same joke, but I’ve been given special permission from old Saint Patrick himself–because when I told it to him even he too couldn’t stop laughing…

It’s about Muldoon who had been out drinking into the wee hours, and one suspects it was not his first time either.

So he kicked off his shoes and crept into his house so he didn’t awaken his true love, Kathleen.

He was heading up to the bedroom but only made it up two steps before he fell backward on his rump.

Unfortunately, he had a bottle of whiskey in each back pocket!

But he was so afraid he might have made too much noise for Kathleen, he fumbled back on his feet, found a light, turned around, and dropped his pants. There in the hallway mirror he saw his own rear end cut and bleeding. So he found a box of Band-Aids, and put one on each place where he saw blood.

Then he crawled up the stairs, fell into bed, and was barely asleep when he saw that the sun was up–and he felt his lovely Kathleen pulling on his big toe.

“Muldoon,” she said, “you were out drunk again last night!”

“Oh,” he groaned, “Have mercy. Why would you say such a mean thing?”

“Because when I went downstairs the front door was wide open, there was booze bottle glass all over the floor, and there was a trail of blood from the glass right into this very bed!”

“But mostly it was because of those Band-Aids stuck on the hallway mirror!”

—–

I suppose there’s been a Muldoon in every house. Let’s sing two more songs to lift Muldoon’s holiday spirit. There’s no home on any holiday more forgiving than the HOME ON THE RANGE…or a promise more joyous than being “Once in Love With Amy…”

———

Finally, what day would be more appropriate for a miracle than a Saint’s Day? And who would be better equipped to shake loose that miracle than a local Irish priest driving back to Marin County from San Francisco after perhaps over-enjoying just such a celebration?

Father Timothy had just crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and was creeping down the hill when a cop pulled him over. The policeman leaned in, smelled the sweet aroma of alcohol, and saw an empty wine bottle on the car floor…

“Have you been drinking, Father?”

“Ah yes, officer, but just water.”

The trooper asked him, “Then why do I smell wine?”

The priest looked down, saw the bottle, and shouted “GOOD LORD! He’s done it again!”

————

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of all of the chorus, we thank you for being such a welcoming audience. Let me once again acknowledge the MarinTones, Opus IV, and our director, Phil DeBar… [who asked Paul Wren to close the show with “America the Beautiful.”]




Origin of the phrase “out in left field”

Chicagoans gave birth to the term “out of left field” about 100 years ago. The left field in the pre-Wrigley playing grounds butted up to a many-storied insane asylum, and when the crowds made too much noise the lunatics screamed out the windows and banged on pans. Their comments truly were “out of left field.”




Little things not to say when you’re emceeing …

There may be a million things not to say when you are in charge of a program or ceremony.

Let me share a half-dozen wee comments that, in themselves, aren’t going to get you hooked off the podium, but, done right, they will easily distinguish you as a professional who is comfortable and smooth…

For example, do you know anybody who wants to be introduced last (unless that spot is saved for the highlight of the show)? Even worse, “last but not least.” Why not say “final” or “concluding”? Or if you are using numbers, like “first speaker,” “second speaker,” and so on, just use the number for the last? Like “Many of you may have heard our fifth speaker, …”

Along the same line, “We’ve saved the best for last…” Hmm, if I was speaker #3 of five what goes through my mind? I must have bombed, or whatever one does who isn’t the best…

Ever hear, “the one and only”? That does convey special esteem, but it also makes the listeners ask, “the one and only what?” Why not tell the audience why that person is held in such high regard, like “the fastest woman in the world, …” Even there “the one and only” may be one race from being inaccurate. Consider something less transitory like “America’s most rewarded Olympic Gold swimmer, … ”

How often have you heard that the speaker “needs no introduction,” then they are introduced (usually in great length)! Two points here: (1) surely there are folks in the crowd who have absolutely no idea who the person is, so you have to say something about them or their prominence, and (2) if you are certain that the coming speaker is beyond introduction, prove it. Save the introduction.

But you can’t just point at them and grunt or push the microphone into their hands. So a compromise. “____ is well known to most of us…” and complete the introduction with a concise listing of their accomplishments or honors.

Finally, you must remember which is the podium and which is the lectern. You are standing on the podium, your notes are sitting on the lectern.

A very good emceeing guidebook full of solid advice is Dana LaMon’s Master the Ceremonies (see www.danalamon.com).

Emceeing is lots of fun–it’s also alarming the first times out. The most important thing to remember is that the audience isn’t there to see or hear you.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Want to be an emcee for three or four hours, probably alone and usually non-stop? Give full seminars! Details at “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.”




Using humor to sell your magazine articles

Funny you should ask!

One rule always: some editors/publications don’t use humor, so don’t even try. At best the editor may open her lips to chuckle (or groan), then reconsider and toss the query. I can’t tell you which such publications  to avoid because I don’t read them. But it used to be that the AARP magazines were humor dry. That getting old must be grim stuff. (So when I did write for them I kept surefire rip-roarers, even tepid jests, out of my mind lest one slide down to my pecking finger and be read by the paymaster.)

I can’t remember any editor who wanted truckloads of comedy dumped on their desk. They bought humor in measured bits deftly worked into actual (or near-) truths. Except the fillers editors who seemed to weigh jokes by the word so they could be squeezed into advertising holes. They actually did pay a pittance, when they stopped laughing–but I don’t ever recall them buying two jokes at the same time. I had a colleague who sold a joke to Reader’s Digest and included the sale in his credits in every query. One editor wrote back, rejecting his idea, and added, “I bet that RD joke was the only thing you ever sold.” Mean editors are rare, but they can be perceptive. It was about a third of his freelance bounty.

Puns sometimes worked, but if I used one I used two so they knew it was intentional. I’ve sold 1,700+ freelance articles but only once did I use a full-out joke in an article, and that was about 10 or 15 words long and the joke was the article’s lead! (Alas, it must have been far below my personal humor standard because I can’t remember a word of it!) On the other hand I wrote a travel short about 800 words long about eating guinea pig sandwiches that were cooked on the street in Quito, Ecuador. (At least they looked like guinea pigs.) I found out years later, through a Peace Corps kid stationed near Cuenca, that one of his projects was to help multiply the stock of domesticated guinea pigs to increase the meat available on the local table. (Whatever it was, it sure tasted good.)

Here was my system of weaving humor into an article’s otherwise deadly prose.

(1) Mostly I lifted deadly prose appreciably heavenward by keeping the tone light and the descriptions spry (good synonyms adorned with festive adjectives helped).

(2) I relied a lot on word play, but you have to spread it out and only do that now and then. For example, I might refer to Buffy, a wee, yapping dog, as a furry feral killer-companion or a drooling pet growler. Or a woman’s date as her knight of the night. That’s enough wit: the blog censors just told me to stop–they are thinking of your humor health.

(3) A funny, related thought to what is being said in a paragraph almost always ended that paragraph.

(4) It’s hard to give isolated examples. Find an article that intentionally makes you laugh and highlight every funny item in it with yellow underliner. You’ll see that the humor is discretely bundled in 93% topic-related facts.

(5) Just as the writer did in (5) above, if the subject had humor wanting to get out, I made the content worth reading, and let some of that humor escape.

(6) I always put some humor in the query letter, in the actual selling message, so the editor knew there would be humor in the copy that followed. I’m convinced that the humor helped sell the query. But you can’t overdue it.

(7) As a friend who teaches journalism tells his wards: if you can’t keep your humor in control, get a talk show!

Some loose how-to’s but I hope it helps. Life’s a whole lot more fun when you’re part of the wit and mirth. It’s even better when you get paid to share it.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

 

 

 

 

 




A paid speech you can book at every association any year…

I call it the “state of the art” speech, but it could have lots of similar names. And if you do it right, the sponsor is very likely to ask (perhaps even beg) you to give it again and again! (You can even build your own empire around it.)

An example helps here. Let’s say there is a Lighthouse Management Association, there are 50,000 lighthouses, and twice as many members who are involved in keeping the light lit and the coal stacked. (You can see what I know about lighthouses, born in suburban Chicago!)

The core of your “state of the art” lighthouse management presentation would answer these three questions:

(1) How did lighthouses and their management get to where they are now? That’s mostly quick history, some “march of time” visuals, problems along the way, and their solutions. Call this IN THE PAST.

(2) It’s 2015. How are the managers and lighthouses doing today? Numbers, budgets, the most common or most serious 5 or 10 current problems, plus visuals of several model lighthouses. Maybe a summary of the best and worst job requirements for the chief honchos. A look at salary ranges, lighthouse-related courses in colleges, anything they want to know more about across the country (or is it shore to shore?) This is RIGHT NOW.

(3) IN THE FUTURE might be at set dates (5, 10, 15, 50 years from 2015), or in the near future and the far future (provide realistic time spans like 2020-30 and after 2030…). Here you focus on changes afoot now, possible need solutions likely implemented in the future, long-range needs decades away and how they might be met… If possible, maybe even some sketched visuals of how lighthouses might look in 50 or 150 years.

Compiling (1) is pretty much a history dig, some search tools, lighthouse history accounts and books, a few retellings of relevant “as it was” stories by the pioneers. Humor helps here, as does brevity. (Summarize it in the speech, but you might do full research and write “the” or “a” key book about it in the future. That’s another foundational brick in your empire.)

The association may be your biggest helper in composing and organizing (2). It’s always amazing how little most practitioners know about the larger field they serve. (They are busy doing what they do where they are at. To know more is probably why they are at the convention you would address.) Gathering the present-day facts is another blog. Lists are good: lighthouses and managers (or how to find them quickly), money in and out (global to wee beamers), personnel job descriptions, most common local and national problems (financial, political, directional, technical), equipment (present, problems, solutions), and so on. The listeners should know in 20 minutes the current state of the lighthouse art (where they are, why, how they are the same and different—you fill it in.)

Number (3), probably the last 10-15 minutes, is the testiest because it’s “maybe” stuff and usually anybody’s guess. Of course the listeners will wonder if you are just pulling the guesswork out of the air–or their leg. One way to handle that is to say that you contacted 100 scattered lighthouse managers with a questionnaire, plus of course you asked the associationfolk and a dozen recommended “big names” in this field (you actually have to do it!) and here are the 10 trends or innovations or areas of most likely change they saw in the future. List the 10. You might place them on a horizontal “future line” with dates every 5 or 15 or 25 years when they would most likely be started or implemented. Then you discuss all 10, most in some depth (with source links, if available), a few shorter “who really knows but…” comments.

Why would associations or related sponsors jump at the chance to book this speech or seminar? Because it’s exactly what the members want to know. And in a small part because you are objective and aren’t likely to be pumping some company line. (The questionnaire will help you see what they do want to know. Just ask, “What do you really want to know the most about…” and “How will your lighthouse look in 50 (or 100) years?—or “ideally, how might your lighthouse (or your job) look in 50 (or 100) years?”

Why would they hire you to speak if you can’t tell a lighthouse from a farm house? Because if you present yourself and the topic right, they need to share that information. It would be easier if you were a 40-year lighthouse manager, or at least a manager, knew lighthouses, were an association soul, were a federal officer dealing with lighthouses, were a futurist and you did “state of the art” speeches (preferably about lighthouse management), taught lighthouse history, and so on. But an experienced speaker with a long interest in lighthouses might be plenty. (Long might be relative. Perhaps long vertically, with book jamming your new passion.)

Where does the empire fit in for you? If what you say on speech day is a resounding (or even moderate with clapping) success; it was honest, instructive, and even (heavens) enjoyable; it made huge sense to all listening, and they want a follow-up in two or three years (with more emphasis on (2) and (3), that’s a warm roar telling you to write a book in the general lighthouse management area. And from that book you spread out with more books, more speeches (why not a next-year follow-up about technology, management, and lighthouses, another related need the following year, and on the third year, “state of the art” again?) By that time you’re an “expert” in your defined (“state of the art in…”) area and attendees eagerly fill your hall to hear about themselves again. Emperors or empresses open the door with expertise, then expand it (and add other information dissemination means to sell more of it, like books, a newsletter, blogs, workshops, public speeches (at lighthouses?), videos, and so on…) An excellent way to begin the financial fiefdom is by starting with “a paid speech you can book at every association any year…” (Just pick one you at least really care about!)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. I’m half done with a how-to “state of the art” book. I will run an occasional blog on this topic too. If you want to know more or know a “state of the art” speaker whom I might interview, send an email (glburgett@gmail.com) or get on my free, every-two-month, easy-to-escape newsletter and I will add you to the “state of the art” elist and tell you when the book has seen light. You’ll get a discount too!




Sample newspaper releases for a public seminar (#12 of 12)

Here are two typical newspaper releases I sent simultaneously to every newspaper within about 50 miles of the location, usually addressed to the city editor. They were sent about 2 1/2 weeks before the program. (I have altered some of the numbers.)

Item 1:

NEWS RELEASE

HAROLD SMITH
Communication Unlimited
P.O. Box XXX, Novato, CA 94947
Email gordon@gordonburgett.com
Web site www.gordonburgett.com
(800) XXX-1454

Release date: by Sept. 7

“How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” will be given at the Sheraton Santa Barbara next Tuesday evening, Sept. 8, from 6-10 p.m. by Gordon Burgett, who presents 100+ seminars a year throughout California.

Gordon focuses on the key requirements for seminar success, marketing, pricing, scheduling, promotion, content, and follow-up. Program participants also receive a step-by-step, 26-page workbook. For specific registration information, call (800) XXX-1454.

“There’s still plenty of room for the beginner in the field,” says Burgett, a Novato writer and former university dean with 1,700+ articles and 43 books in print, “particularly if they can clearly present ‘how-to’ information that others need and want. In fact, it may be the only multibillion-dollar industry where the average man and woman can still get a firm, profitable toehold. Most just need to know how to get started.” Gordon has given 2,100+ paid public presentations.

– 30 –

I also included in the same envelope a short one-paragraph insertion for use in the daily or weekly activities section. Very often if Item 1 wasn’t used, Item 2 was—and many times both appeared.

Item 2: to use in the “Calendar of Coming Events” section:

NEWS RELEASE

“How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar,” by Gordon Burgett, Sheraton Santa Barbara, Sept. 8, 6-10 p.m. For specific registration information, call (800) XXX-1454.

Why did I use the name Harold Smith in the return address? A newspaper editor, and friend, told me early on if I sent the press releases in my name about my own programs they wouldn’t be used! So I invented a press agent, Harold Smith. The very rare times that someone from a publication called to speak to Harold Smith I just said, “Thank you…” and answered the questions. I guess Harold and I sound alike.

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This 12-unit blog program is excerpted from “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar,” an audio CD four-tape program with a digital workbook and an audio text summary. More details are here.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett (or is it Harold Smith?)




5-step guide to seminar speaking success (#11 of 12)

Several years back my book Empire-Building by Writing and Speaking was published. It’s OP now (although Amazon probably has some dog-eared copies for a penny). Fortunately, I kept two copies on my shelf because some weeks back I was asked to update and share parts of that book for another publication.

Since I’m also about to end a blog series about seminaring here, this 5-step guide from that book might fit well in this series. So here it is in its slightly updated version:

Step 1. Your seminar subject must be appealing and clearly stated in both the title and description. It must also meet a need sufficiently strong that one will pay to attend.

That is, by the title, then reinforced and expanded in the description, the person must be attracted to the subject. He/She must see it as a way to meet a need. It must be clear why he should attend. The benefits must be stated or obvious: by attending the seminar, he will solve personal problems, get rich, learn a skill that will ultimately result in a raise or a more responsible position, find security, overcome frustrations, improve his sex life, and so on…

This is by far the most important guideline of the five. The best promotion, finest location, and most attractive fee will not sell a senseless title or a garbled, pointless description.

(2.) The seminar must be scheduled when and where the public will attend.

Naturally, you say. That’s obvious. But how many times have you seen seminars about personal safety given at nighttime—the very hours when those most worried about their safety won’t leave their homes? Or seminars that teach how to make one’s boss richer, by improving your skills or efficiency, during your nonworking hours?

If you are offering a seminar that shows how to turn marbles into rubies, you can charge a bundle, give it atop a mountain at 3 a.m., and throw in a hellacious rainstorm to test the participants’ mettle. The throngs would joyously haul their glass spheroids to wherever you are whenever you speak!

But most of us offer programs markedly less glittering. To us, the time and place are proportionately more important to our seminar’s success.

(3.) The cost must be in line with perceived benefits and other ways of realizing those benefits.

“Perceived” is the key word. The benefits can be there but if one doesn’t perceive them—why they are worth having or that they can be gained from your seminar—any cost will be too high.

Assuming that the benefits are not only perceived, they are desired, then your seminar must be affordable and in line with other means of getting those benefits. For example, if your seminar costs $100 and one virtually identical costs $35, where do you think the participants will go? On the other hand, if you are explaining a crucial “how-to” link absolutely necessary to securing $100,000+ contracts and yours is the only program focusing on that vital information, isn’t a fee of at least $500 or more worth the investment?

Your main competition is other seminars—and sometimes wildcat consultants. Rarely will taped programs have more appeal than a live presentation, and books, though they may cost only a fraction as much, will be a factor only when your seminar is considered marginal by the participants, when your audience is already book-oriented, or when it is highly price-conscious. (On the other hand, if you have a solid, professional-looking book that validates your expertise in the seminar’s topic, it will be a valuable selling tool.)

The length of your presentation is important too. If other seminars like yours last four hours, yours probably should last four hours too—or maybe three or three and a half hours. A longer program than your competition will be very hard to sell.

(4.) The participant must know of the seminar’s existence and be attracted to it.

If one has an idea that is salable as a seminar, promotion is usually the difference between success and failure. For though it may be the best idea imaginable, or a foolproof way to solve the most pressing need, if nobody knows about it, who will attend? Without promotion, who will read the title and description and rush to register?

Yet promotion is also the greatest financial risk. Self-promoted seminars often spend as much as two-thirds of their anticipated income to attract registrants before a penny is made. Promotion properly done can draw crowds to seminars that are promotable. But if the topic, title, description, timing, location, and all the rest aren’t right, that is, if the seminar isn’t promotable, all of the costs spent making your seminar known may be useless—or at least ultimately profitless.

So the dice are thrown and the gamble is made through your program’s promotion, content, and cost. Your seminar must be promotable—and promoted. The rest is risk.

(5.) The seminar’s content and your presentation are crucial for its long-term success.

If you are going to offer the seminar often—and why would you go to so much trouble if you weren’t?—what you say and how you say it will be its own best long-term promotion.

Neither the actual content nor your presentation will attract participants to your first seminar. They will register by what you tell them that you will say; why they should hear it; by the title, description and the promotional promises. Like a book, first-timers buy seminars by the cover. They don’t know if you’re a bumbler or have a tongue of honey. They buy on faith.

But if you are a bumbler or you don’t give what you promise, your future is limited, for nothing is more forceful or harder to erase than negative word-of-mouth.

Therefore, the first time out you must provide not only solid content and a professional presentation, particular attention must be paid to the first four steps of this guide so there are many bearers of positive word-of-mouth. Over time, solid content and excellent presentation will reduce the risk of promotion and will provide the desired cushion of profitability, as long as the first three steps in this guide are properly tended to.

In the business realm, content and presentation are particularly critical. The first question a potential programmer will ask is “Where did you give this seminar before?” Those references will then be asked, “Is he any good?” You will be booked primarily from the responses of those who heard you perform. Businesses don’t take the risks that the public must. Thus the first business booking is extremely hard to get. Later bookings are far easier when that reply is, “He’s super. The best money you’ll ever spend.” That’s why content and presentation, properly done, are money in the bank.
_____________________________________________________________________

Another related item that should help participants decide whether to attend:

I was usually asked in my empire-building seminar if one’s expenses were tax deductible. I imagined so (I would deduct them) but it was really up to the attendees to make that decision. So I almost always inserted a box on my fliers and other promotional material called TAX DEDUCTION CLAUSE. They could then determine whether to deduct the expenses—and which ones.

A few years back this was what my box said:

Tax Deduction for Educational Expenses. Treasury regulation 1.162-5 permits an income tax deduction for educational expenses (registration fees and cost of travel, meals and lodging) undertaken to: (1) maintain or improve skills required in one’s employment or business, or (2) meet express requirements of an employer or a law imposed as a condition to retention of employment, job status or rate of compensation.

The regulation might need updating. If so, just tell your potential attendees of the pertinent regulation and what it says. (You can Google that clause.)

Much of the above comes from my “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” (a four-tape audio CD version of a four-hour seminar of the same name. It includes a 26-page digital workbook and audio text summary.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett




Emceeing: full sample script, 7/4/2014

Since we’ve received many requests for completed Barbershop scripts, as formats or models for similar club or organization presentations, here is the July 4, 2014, program at the Marin County (California) Fair.

(The live rendition is on You Tube, though the sound capture is fairly poor, being an outside show [in a tent] and surrounded by other live activities, including a giant, musical Ferris Wheel about 150 feet away.)

————–

4th of JULY SCRIPT (2014)

To start the program the group sang “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.”

Thank you.

Welcome to our country’s birthday party, Marin County style!

We are the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus, our director today is Mr. Paul Wren, and I’m Gordon Burgett.

It’s an honor to be invited back, for many years now, to the Ben and Jerry’s Stage on the festive Fourth. We are delighted to see so many of you here today. We’re going to offer a wide selection of American music this sunny Friday, much of it patriotic, plus folk songs and Broadway classics.

Let’s start with a 1957 song by Ricky Nelson: “HELLO, MARY LOU”:
___________________

Since we’re on a love-song roll, how about two more songs that have survived the ages.? The first is “I’M GONNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER,” followed by “I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOVE YOU LIKE I DO…”

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If you don’t mind, let me point out something sort of odd. (Point at a kid in the audience.) Would you do me a favor? Your name? Would you stand up and look at the audience. Can it be a coincidence that, in our audience today, ____ is wearing the very same thing that the colonists wore at the Boston Tea Party… a t-shirt. Thank you, _____.

Let’s hear a patriotic favorite written three or four times by Irving Berlin, who died a short while ago at the age of 101. He wrote the first version of this song in 1918 when he was serving in WWI, and he rewrote it again in 1938. Here’s the rendition sung for years by Kate Smith: “GOD BLESS AMERICA!
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Our next song was made popular by Nat King Cole, the Mills Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, and maybe a dozen more. It’s called “NEVERTHELESS.”
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You’re a great audience. Would you like to know how barbershopping differs from other chorale or group singing? Let’s ask Paul, who flew in all the way from England to make us sing, how that works. Then Paul will show how the 4-part melodic blend sounds in another favorite oldie, “CONEY ISLAND BABE….”

[The demonstration, involving four soloists and the chorus, used the song “MY WILD IRISH ROSE.”]
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There’s also the less frolicksome side of the Fourth of July. Of course we remember and hail our country’s independence, but also we can’t forget, sadly, the many lives lost to win and preserve a more just and a better way of life. It’s somewhat paradoxical that three famous Americans who symbolize and helped define that freedom actually died on the Fourth of July: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (on the same day) and James Monroe. For them, and for the thousands more lost on battlefields and at home protecting our liberty, and for all of you too who have also lost a loved one recently, here’s a beautiful, heart-felt song that conveys our condolences: “I BELIEVE.”
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The singers are going to take a short glottal break. It’s my privilege to present Paul Wren again. Paul’s going to share a funny story. If you listen carefully you might detect a slight Oxford accent!

Thank you, Paul.

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It’d be hard to find two songs more American than our next offerings: first, “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME”—baseball buffs are invited to sing along!—followed by the song “TODAY.”
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I see a lot of you guys out there humming and moving your lips. If you’ve enjoyed our musical foray and wish you were up here singing, come and join us on Monday nights from 7:30-10 at the First Presbyterian Church at Ross and Kensington in San Anselmo. We’d like to have you on stage with us next year. And if you hurry, we’d love to have you with us on November 2, always the first Sunday in November, in our annual Fall Show at 2 p.m. in the last building back there. That’s the Showcase Theater. There will be information fliers on the stage when we finish. And yes, it’s true: if you join us you too can have your own stunning red shirt!

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Three more songs!

You probably can’t believe it to look at us, but we’re almost all married (some of us often), so we want to sing a sweet love song to our long-suffering wives, who let us loose every Monday night to practice—and, of course, for all of you other sweethearts here today…

Here’s “WHEN THERE’S LOVE AT HOME,” followed by a national home song we all share: “HOME ON THE RANGE.”

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We’re about sung out, and we want to come down and shake your hands, so our favorite closer is next. First, let’s give a hand to a merciless, imported taskmaster, Paul Wren. And also to the singers of the Marin Golden Gate Barbershop Chorus…

You’ve been a fun audience. We hope we have helped you have a fun fair.

Our closing song always brings our listeners to their feet! Please join us in singing the well known closing stanzas of “THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER!”




A fetching seminar description is a must! (#8 of 15)

However you book your seminar, the sponsors and participants must know what you will talk about; thus, a concise description is your most important calling card.

It is either part of the opening correspondence to get booked at a business or corporation, to explain the kind of program or training you can offer, or it is part of your submission process when offering public or school presentations, where the attendee pays for the opportunity to hear you speak.

In either case, it must be written around the benefits that participants will receive from (lovingly) hearing your orations. “What’s in it for me?” is what the readers ask themselves. And “Is it worth the time, hassle, and cost?” Then mix in the who, what, why, where, and how–plus prayer, if you are so given.

Corporate or business presentations will be serving a different master. “What’s in this for the company or sponsor?” is the orientation of their description.

For public programs the description is usually part of a catalog or like announcement that explains the program’s location, the time, and ways to register. You must add to that why the readers’ registration would bring them hard-to-find or hugely desired benefits from a person with tested qualifications and experience.

A much-used format in a public description is to begin with a lead, a catchy opener, that tells why they should attend, what valuable information or skill they will learn, and how long the program lasts.

Segue into a short, bulleted list of the most important take-aways. Three-five items are best, and asterisks are much better than numbers or letters separating the benefits in the list.

If the registrant will receive a workbook, describe what it contains and if it is free. Often the presenter’s qualifications are part of the closing copy, which reinforces the benefits already shared.

Very important is that the seminar-giver adhere to the description length required of each description, so part of the gilded message isn’t unkindly clipped or compressed before it is shared with potential registrants. Very often the maximum length is four compact paragraphs, including the list of benefits. Make certain the sponsor will not change your title or alter the text without informing you.

The sample that follows is a college extended education description about this very topic that I used throughout California for more than 20 years. Study closely the other descriptions in sponsor’s seminar catalog to see what will make your topic unique and sought by likely participants who need to know what you are sharing.

———-
HOW TO SET UP AND MARKET YOUR OWN SEMINAR

Want to earn a healthy income selling your know-how to others? Or convey knowledge to clients or prospective customers at free, informative, image-enhancing gatherings? Seminars meet the bill. In four hours you will learn the essential ingredients of seminar success:

* how to give your first seminar with no financial risk
* why topic definition and the right title are crucial to success
* which key words most titles should include
* what promotional strategies work
* what four key questions seminar-givers must be able to answer about sponsorship or selection

A 24-page free workbook includes an organizational calendar, a current bibliography, two sample news releases, and a model evaluation form, plus guide sheets about publicity, mailing lists, locations, flyer/brochure preparation, budget, content and organization, and how to get scheduled at colleges and universities.

Even more, Gordon Burgett, California’s most prolific seminar-giver with over 100 offerings annually, will explain what he is doing as he does it, tying together form and content in one fact-packed program designed to provide you with the basic information and tools needed to get you speaking (and banking) quickly, confidently, and permanently.

——————————

(This information accompanies the description and is used by the booking office for their records.)

SEMINAR LENGTH: 4 hours
MINIMUM COST: $50, including workbook
Gordon Burgett, 185 Shevelin Rd., Novato, CA 94947
www.gordonburgett.com / (800) 563-1454
Soc. Sec XXX=XX-XXXX

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Best wishes,
Gordon Burgett

From Gordon Burgett’s four-CD program, How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar , with digital workbook and audio text summary).




Checklists for organizing your own seminar (#7 of 15)

Here is a checklist, in rough chronological order, of the key steps to organizing and programming your own seminar:

(1) Write a one-sentence topic for a seminar.

(2) Concerning that topic, write answers to the following:

Who cares?
What problems will it solve?
How and where else can the same information be found?
How much time or money would the participant save by attending your seminar?
Why else would people attend it?
Do other seminars about your topic exist?
What do they cost?
What’s their approach?
How long do they take?
How often are they given?
Where/how are they booked? Subsidized?

(3) Write a seminar description that includes objectives, benefits, who should attend, and why.

(4) Write a dozen titles. Select the best.

(5) Evaluate the resources for your seminar preparation. While checking the resources, compile a bibliography for your workbook. Later, in using the resources, select the best and annotate them.

(6) Prepare your budget: itemize expected costs and anticipate when the money will be needed; list the possible unexpected costs by source and date; list anticipated income and when expected; plot your income and costs on a calendar; evaluate your need for a reserve fund, the amount and when needed; list your financial reserves: amount and when available; list the ways to increase income and reduce costs; determine the method(s) of participant payment: pre-registration only, discount for pre-registration, higher fee at the door, cash, or credit cards, etc.

(7) Determine the minimum payment you will accept for offering the seminar, factor in the cost for its presentation, then establish its cost to the participant.

(8) Plan your speaking schedule: dates, hours, cities, sites; check feasibility of travel as scheduled; contact sites, book facilities, make hotel/motel reservations.

(9) Plan your promotional campaign: list target audience, from the most to least likely to attend; list ways to best appeal to each potential audience; establish an operational budget for the most effective promotional approaches; prepare the time/method list for promotional activities; implement your campaign.

(10) Determine who will be your local contact at sites; establish responsibilities, method of reporting results; devise a method for recording and posting names of registrants to your mailing list; provide all needed promotional materials to your contact; determine who will handle/help with door registration and product sale, etc.

(11) Determine the kind/amount of non-promotional printed material needed: workbooks, evaluation sheets, door registration forms, receipts, product sale forms; set up a production schedule: writing, typing or typesetting, paste-up, printing.

(12) Prepare your seminar; plan, integrate audio-visual aids into the presentation; arrange for and schedule any outside speakers; evaluate the need for your own microphone, amplification, projectors, etc.; practice your presentation, opening and closing remarks; break the seminar into segments, including breaks.

(13) Plan and purchase speaking attire that visually reinforces the seminar’s objective.

(14) As the day approaches for final cancellation of facility fee for full/partial refund, decide if the seminar will be given.

(15) Review all promotional activities as the presentation day approaches.

(16) If scheduled, give radio/TV and newspaper interviews.

(17) Check the presentation site, the day before if possible; review the activities and provisions needed for the site personnel.

(18) Arrive at least an hour before the seminar, set up equipment, review the activities and responsibilities of the helpers, dress.

(19) Smile, take a deep breath, and give a super seminar!

(20) Read the evaluation sheets to see how the next seminar can be given better.

SOME ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR YOUR SEMINARING BUSINESS
(1) Select a business name.

(2) Complete the fictitious business statement process.

(3) Get necessary city/state licenses; if selling a product, get resale number from state taxing board.

(4) Open a business bank account.

(5) Check into credit card use at a bank for registration/sale of products.

(6) Stock business stationery and needed supplies.

(7) Investigate joining business or professional associations.

(8) Familiarize yourself with single proprietorship and receipting responsibilities.

(9) Keep records and receipts for all income and expenses.

SOME CONSIDERATIONS WHEN SCHEDULING THROUGH ACADEMIC EXTENSION

(1) Contact colleges/universities at least four months—six is better—prior to the start of the quarter or semester to present your seminar(s) and yourself for possible inclusion in the next program, sending the title and description plus an outline of each seminar, a list of likely participants (by kind, vocation, description), and a resume—with a cover letter.

(2) Offer to assist with promotion: news release preparation, radio/TV spots, etc.

(3) Coordinate your workbook preparation with the extension office.

(4) Prepare the necessary paperwork for later payment.

(5) Maintain contact with each school prior to traveling there to offer the seminar(s).

(6) Familiarize yourself with door registration procedures and evaluation forms.

(7) Return all funds and forms to the sponsoring school promptly after offering your seminar(s).

Use all three categories as appropriate and needed. Because it is impossible to know all of the elements necessary for all seminars, or the exact order of elements needed for any seminar, the three components should be used as a guideline, with items moved, deleted, or added as exigency dictates.

From Gordon Burgett’s How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar (audio CD version, 2009, with digital workbook and audio text summary). Produced by Communication Unlimited / 185 Shevelin Rd. /
Novato, CA 94947 / (800) 563-1454 . For further information, see www.gordonburgett.com/order3.htm.