Ask Timpo: How do I break the ice at networking events?

A: I?ve lost count of the times I?ve cringed when a mediocre speaker tries to tell a mildly amusing story. It?s bad enough listening to the best man at a wedding, but at a business function, jokes are often totally inappropriate.

Here?s a way to save yourself any embarassment. ?I?ve been asked to tell you a joke. Fortunately, I heard three good ones at the golf club last weekend ? one about two Irish bricklayers, another about a meeting of the Women?s Institute and, my favourite, one about a Russian girl who went wind surfing.

?I went home and tried them all out on my wife who sat expressionless until I?d finished all three. She said: ?The first story is racist and will upset any Irish people in the audience; the second is sexist and will offend women?.?

??What about my favourite ? the one about the Russian girl??? I interrupted. ?The joke was okay, but you forgot half the words and messed up the punchline ? it proves that you should never try telling a story in public.?

?So, luckily my two minutes are up and I have no time left to tell you about the Russian girl who went wind surfing.?

John Timpson runs high-street cobbler Timpson, which has 800 branches nationwide and sales of ?150m. Got a question for him? Post it in the comments box below.

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