How to Become Good at Public Speaking

When I was an Uchideshi of Koichi Tohei Sensei, I asked him how I might become good at public speaking.
He told me “Go to Yose.” (This is a place in Japan where you watch Japanese

Luckily, I was in
Tokyo to otomo Tohei Sensei, so I could easily access Shinjuku Suehirotei, the “Yose”.

One day I was able to go, but I could only watch the last half of the show, because of my work
schedule. Every comedian I saw on that evening was an expert, and I enjoyed the
show very much with the other audience members. I felt the time passed by like
a flash.

Next week, Koichi
Tohei Sensei asked me, “I heard you have been to Yose. How was it?” and I
answered “Yes, I have been there. It was really fun!”

I saw his face and
recognized my answer was beyond the mark.

“It was good that
you enjoyed it, but I would like to hear what interested you the most, and why you
thought it was fun.” As he asked me this, I noticed that I had perhaps forgotten
the purpose of his recommending this adventure to me.

“I will visit
there again.” I told him and then he gave me another bit of advice, “Ok, when
you go there, you better watch from the beginning to the end.”

I visited Yose
again next week. This time, I was there from the beginning. There were very few
audience members this time. In fact, it
was almost empty.

The comedians came
on stage one at a time. All were very young, but some of them were very good
entertainers, and some were inexperienced.

At first, I did not know what the differences were. However, while I was watching them
carefully, I found the huge differences were in their state of mind before
coming up on stage, their facial expression, their breathing, and “Ma”, which
means “the moment of each movements and words.” In English this is called “their timing.”

The later the show
went on, the better the comedian who came on stage, the more audience filled in
the hall, and the more laughter, and the more to learn. I studied all the people
around me and I tried to observe the whole atmosphere.

I decided to get
permission from Koichi Tohei Sensei for me to visit Yose every week. While practicing
uchideshi training, we do not earn much money, and I spent most of what I
earned to visit there. It was an investment for my future.

Not only money was
spent, but time was also invested. It takes about 4 hours if you stay at Yose
from the beginning to the end. I do not remember how many times I have been

Live shows are
very “perishable,” and you can never receive the full impact of by watching the
same kind of information through internet screen or just listening to someone’s
feedback. This is why Koichi Tohei Sensei did not teach me how but told me “Go
to Yose”.

“You often visit
Yose recently, right?” He asked me. “Yes! Last week I noticed that….”

I could never
forget his happy face when he listened to my reports of what I have learned.