Blame It on The Hokey Pokey; The Power of Personal Stories

 Hokey Pokey 2by Marguerite Ham (Re-Posted with Permission)

I was recently teaching a Presentation Skills workshop for a client, and one of my dearest friends, gifted speaker and presenter, Karyn Ruth White ( did a guest presentation on The Power of Personal Stories and how to integrate them into our presentations, speeches, trainings and daily interactions with people.  Karyn Ruth taught us that personal stories can create “universal teaching points” by which we and others can learn and grow.  Karyn Ruth believes that stories are information with a soul!

Think of a personal story, circumstance or experience that you have had and that created an impact on you.  It could involve your interaction with one of your children, a friend, a family member or a complete stranger!  Here is a personal story that Karyn Ruth shared with the group:

Karyn Ruth White was walking into Walmart. She was not having a particularly good day or feeling energetic or social.  (We have all had days like that – part of the human journey!)  As she entered, she saw one of the check-out ladies that she had seen before and had had a casual conversation with from time to time, Tiffany.  As Tiffany was checking out a customer, she was humming the song “Hokey Pokey”.  (Yup!  You got it…. “you put your right foot in, you take your right foot out”…now try to get that song OUT of your head for the rest of today!)  Karyn Ruth  realized in that moment that she had a choice: she could walk right by and not acknowledge Tiffany or her song and continue feeling not so energetic or social, OR she could join in with the song and lighten up her day.  (You guessed it, she chose the latter.)  Karyn Ruth went right over to Tiffany and started singing the song out loud and doing “the dance”.  Before long, there were giggling children and light-hearted adults dancing the Hokey Pokey in Walmart!  Everyone who was participating or just passing by was laughing and clapping along!

Pause for a moment and reflect. What “Universal Teaching Points” do you see in that story? In other words, what’s the moral of the story? [Hint: there can be more than one!]

When I listened to this story, I heard these Universal Teaching Points:

  1. Every day there are choices: to choose to be sad or happy, engaged or not engaged, it’s a choice to stay in a negative place or shift to a positive outlook.
  2. We can choose to participate in life or walk right by and ignore the moments or opportunities that show up in our lives.
  3. We can connect with other human beings or we can retreat into solitude.
  4. Within all of us is a giggling, dancing child wanting to do the Hokey Pokey!
  5. When we are dancing the Hokey Pokey, we are all connected, doing the same dance. We become united through the movement of the dance and joy.  Judgments, positions, titles, all disappear, we become one, dancing the same dance.

You may take something different from any given personal story. When we hear someone else’s story, we can’t help but hear it through our own life’s experiences. What we learn from a story depends on the storyteller AND on what our lives bring to the tale! So, if you took a few different Universal Teaching Points away from “The Hokey Pokey,” don’t worry!

I challenge you to mine your life for stories that can create a “Universal Teaching Point”: an experience you have had, a situation you survived, a circumstance that has occurred or that you have observed.  Dig a little deeper to find a golden nugget of learning and growth for yourself and others.  Find ways to share that story and, more importantly, share what you learned from that moment or experience.  Research shows that storytellers and their audience actually think more alike as the story goes on – the story creates a meeting of the minds! 

As leaders, it is one of our goals to connect with others, to find ways to continuously grow and learn ourselves, and to challenge others to grow and develop as well.  Storytelling is a great tool to use as a leader!  Have fun mining your stories and growing and teaching through the “Universal Teaching Points” of your stories.  And never forget, no matter how bad your mood…you always have the power to “turn yourself around.”

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Keynote Speaker and Success Humorist.  She is also a Professional Speaking Coach. She works with leaders who want to up-level their impact with personal story and a professionally crafted message.  She is the First Place National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition and delivers Funny Keynotes across the U.S., helping business to thrive and have fun doing it! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

This blog was re-printed with the permission of the author, Marguerite Ham. Marguerite is the CEO of Igniting Success.  She works with leaders and their teams to create team cohesion and enhance productivity with training and coaching.  She is an exceptional Trainer and Coach in the areas of:Leadership Development, Team Dynamics, Workplace Conflict, Presentation Skills, and Memory Acuity. She brings heart and humor to everything she touches. Find out more about the author, Marguerite Ham at




Do you have a new story you want to include in your next speech or training, but you’re not sure if it’s “stage ready?”

Do you have existing material you would like to refresh, punch-up and make funnier?

Could your talk benefit from feedback and crafting guidance, from a professional Keynote Presenter, Comedian and Speaker Coach with over 30 Years’ experience? 

Well today is your lucky day!

“A QUICK PUNCH” Micro-Coaching is perfect for presenters who want to craft a specific piece of material.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You send me a video and written script of your material (10 Minutes Max.) It doesn’t have to be filmed in front of an audience.
  2. I review it, find ways to tighten it and punch it up; Making editing/delivery/humor suggestions and additions.
  3. I provide you with a written Coaching Treatment, including specific notes and suggestions on your material and delivery.
  4. We follow-up with a 60-minute Zoom Coaching Call to finalize crafting, practice delivery and determine next steps.

Micro-Coaching is a great way to build your Story Inventory. Bottom-line: It’s the great stories people remember and repeat. So knock’em out with your next speech by giving it a quick punch!

Total Investment: $497.00 Payable in advance via PayPal. I will send you an Invoice.

*** I am currently accepting a Maximum of 10 Clients for this Offer ***

With this coaching package you can focus on one or two stories at a time and receive invaluable coaching feedback for a very reasonable investment.  So… GET STARTED NOW! Give Yourself the Reward of Confidence…knowing that your stories are stage ready, BEFORE you take them live.

Ready to get to work? Great! Send me a LinkedIn Message or email me at (Subject Line: Quick Punch.) I’ll send you a quick Sign-Up Form with step by step instructions on how to get started. Happy to answer any questions you may have.

I love helping speakers deliver their best selves by delivering their best stuff, and as it turns out, I’m pretty good at it. Check out my LinkedIn Recommendations from my very happy coaching clients.

I’d love to help you!

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Professional Speaking Coach. She works with thought-leaders who want to up-level their impact with a professionally crafted message, punch-it up for more laughter breaks, and tighten their existing talk. She also works with cutting-edge business authors who want to launch their book with a new Keynote. She loves helping speakers craft their authentic voice and learn to express their original humor. She was recently awarded First Place, National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition. She has a decade of experience as a touring Stand-up Comedian, and 15 years and counting delivering Clean, Funny Keynotes at Conferences across the U.S.  As the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, she helps people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth

3 Quick Ways to Kill a Perfectly Fine Speech


In my adventures as a Keynote Coach, and having observed thousands of Keynote Speakers over the years, I have noticed a pattern. There are 3 main things untrained or unaware speakers tend to do, which unless corrected, have the potential to kill their performance.

#1: The first of these is the temptation to tell your audience EVERYTHING you know about your subject.  I have found that when I work with Trainers who want to start keynoting, the first thing we have to do is cull about 80% of their content.  Repeat after me: A KEYNOTE AND A TRAINING ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT ANIMALS! Think of it this way, a Keynote is the Why and a Training is the How.  A Keynote should appeal to us on an emotional level, then the training can fill in the tactical details. Amateurs try to combine both. This is a mistake!

#2: The second deadly mistake is: Never make it about them. Wanna kill a perfectly fine speech? By all means, talk about yourself for the full hour.  The most fascinating of personalities bring their audience along for the ride.  Nothing will shut your listeners down faster and send them scurrying to their smart phones, than an egotistical blowhard with a microphone.

#3: The third quickest way to kill a perfectly fine speech is to use inappropriate, irrelevant and inauthentic humor.  Remember: If you use a funny video you found on the internet, chances are at least half of your audience has already seen it, and you run the risk that another speaker has used the same video in their talk.  Gratuitous use of videos of dancing babies is not the professional standard we want to set.  USE ORIGINAL HUMOR…that way you stand out and there is no chance that your audience has “heard/seen that one before.” This is why we invest the time to craft “Signature Stories”, because no one else has yours!

If you have a great message to share with the world, then you owe it to us, and to yourself, to share it well.  We want to hear what you have to say. If you need help crafting your message, hire a professional speaking coach.  Make sure they are someone who “gets” you and what you are trying to accomplish, and that they honor your original voice and don’t try to mold you to their style.  A great coach is a success partner and their guidance and expertise can make all the difference on the impact you make with your spoken word.

Karyn Ruth White is a nationally recognized Professional Speaking Coach. She works with leaders who want to up-level their impact with a professionally crafted message, and she helps professional speakers who want to tighten their existing talk or re-work their branding with a new Keynote. She loves helping speakers craft their original voice with their original humor. She is the First Place National Winner of The Jeanne Robertson “Comedy with Class” Competition and delivers Funny Keynotes across the U.S., helping business to thrive and have fun doing it! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

Sure, We’re Connected, but Are We Really Right for Each Other?


In my 30 years, and counting, as a business owner, I must have heard someone ask me over 10,000 times, “So, who’s your ideal client?”  To which I invariably respond;

“Uh, anyone who is breathing and can pay me?”

Apparently, this is the wrong answer.

Turns out, there is magic in getting crystal clear on EXACTLY who you want to work with.

So after deep reflection, I have comprised my list:


1: They gotta have a sense of humor. I have no time for humorless people who wish to stay humorless.  I am not the Whiner Whisperer.

2. They value the power of humor as an engagement and advancement tool.

3. They are on a mission to make the world a better place.

4. They are of integrity in all things.

5. They value flexibility, optimism and collaboration.

6. They need my help and I know I can help them. We are partners in our mutual success.

7. They value my expertise and are willing to invest in it, in order to achieve their goals.

8. They trust me as a professional.

9. They are excited about creating opportunity.

10. They are kind; treating people well is one of their core values.

Whether a client is hiring me for a Keynote Presentation, a Laugh and Learn Training Program… or whether they want coaching to up-level their own Keynote, all 10 Ideal Client Traits apply.

So, what is your Top Ten List? Who’s your ideal client?  Who do you REALLY want to work with? There is great power in clarity, so get crystal clear, and then allow your new-found clarity to inform all of your future business decisions.

By the way, if you answered TRUE to all of the above 10, then let’s connect… I think we could be very happy together.

Karyn Ruth White is an award-winning Business Humorist, Funny Keynote Speaker and Trainer who enjoys helping business thrive and have fun doing it! She loves her clients and they love her! She is the owner of Laugh and Learn Productions, LLC, an enterprise helping people to stress less and work more joyfully. Visit her at, on LinkedIn or on Twitter @karynruth.

Customer Service Hang Ups

hanging phoneIf you are tempted to think that how you handle in-coming calls as a business isn’t top priority…think again.

I had an experience recently to prove my point.

I called into a big box company to try and order a waterfall for my backyard.  I don’t want to mention names but I’ll give you a hint…it wasn’t Home Depot.

The department I wanted to reach wasn’t listed in the company’s phone directory, so I hit zero for the Operator. After not one, not two, but count them…five attempts to get through without being cut off, misdirected or simply left holding a ringing phone, I finally found someone to help me.

As I was wading through my five attempts to complete what should have been a very simple and straight-forward request, I made the decision to cross this company off my list of potential vendors to hire for remodeling a rental property I was preparing for market.

WOW! That’s the power that lies in the balance between a well-handled call and a bungled one.  All told, as a rough estimate, I could have easily thrown over $10,000 their way in remodeling business, but I won’t be doing any contract business with them at all. That sale (and future sales) was lost while I was on interminable hold. I figured, “Hey, if trying to buy a waterfall is this hard, what hell would I be in for, if I decided to remodel a bathroom with these people?”

This is EXACTLY what YOUR customers are thinking when they are on eternal hold…they start to question you as a company and then they start to question whether you are worthy of their business, since you seem so willing to waste their valuable time. It’s in this moment that they may decide that it’s time to find another vendor/contractor/supplier/retailer, etc. altogether.

How my call is handled speaks VOLUMES about the quality of the infrastructure within your organization and its overall dedication to providing great customer care from points A to Z.

So the next time the phone rings, answer it as if your paycheck depends on it. It does.

P.S. I decided not to buy the waterfall.

Karyn Ruth White is an Organizational Humorist, Funny Keynote Speaker, Comedian, Author and Speech Coach. When you call her office you will be handled with care, either by Karyn Ruth personally, or by her trusty assistant, Ms. Voicemail. (Quick responses promised.) Visit her at, email her at or if you’re feeling brave, give her a call at 303-369-8277.