Learning through Laughter

Bob Owen, Humorist

Article from the Kentucky Alumni Magazine, Spring 2010.

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Bob's UK article

The Daily Independent, Ashland, KY
Sunday, November 16, 2003

Motivationally speaking ….
Ashlander uses humor to make his point

“When I was 7 years old, I asked Mom why she served parsley with food, since we didn’t eat it. She said, ‘Honey, parsley is pretty, and you must never forget, presentation is everything.’” — Bob Owen Motivational humorist

by KELLY MAY

The Independent

ASHLAND

Bob Owen, 57, of Ashland, knows all about presentation. Because his business is himself, he is careful to package that presentation just right.

Owen’s Ashland-based company is called Owen Communications and he — as a “motivational humorist” — is the star. He is a public speaker, workshop leader and public-relations and marketing consultant. All three of his jobs vary greatly, but all involve his personality traits: enthusiasm, spontaneity and a well-developed sense of humor.

“I’m not a stand-up comedian. But I use funny stories and antics to get the audience involved and to make a point,” Owen said. “My purpose is to train, educate and have fun while making a serious point.”

For example, many of Owen’s workshops center around a theme of making good choices. He says communicating effectively or ineffectively are both choices people make, as are a person’s attitude and approach. To illustrate this, he leads the group through activities to make each person aware of making those choices.

All of his workshops revolve around an underlying serious topic, such as: communication skills, community service/volunteerism, marketing a business or organization, handling change or developing student skills for the workplace. “Every workshop focuses on goals and objectives. When the workshop is over, I want every person to say, ‘This is what I got out of this and, this, specifically, is what I’m going to do next week,’” he said. “In a workshop they do the work. I just kind of help.”

He plans a meticulous outline of the workshop, but is not afraid to vary from that if the group does not respond well to a part of it. And every workshop is tailored ahead of time to the company or organization’s needs, he said.

“Sometimes organizations and businesses know they have a problem — maybe morale, maybe turnover, maybe a lack of trust; however, they don’t know how to approach it. I spend a lot of time before each workshop tailoring each session to specifically meeting their needs,” Owen said. “It’s a problem-solving approach that I enjoy.”

Recently, he led a problem-solving workshop for Rivers of Life Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Ashland. Built around communications and teamwork, the workshop led about 20 church leaders to a specific plan to bring more members into the church.

Between the jokes, gestures and real-life stories that illustrated his points, Owen got his audience to participate by revealing their own ideas about how to overcome potential roadblocks in the way of welcoming new members.

One of those issues was trust. He asked the group to think about what trust means and then to try and define the elusive word — which was not an easy task. After that he broke the crowd into two groups and had each group solve a different problem.

Pastor Don Moore said the church workshop was just as good as those he had seen Owen present to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and the United Way.

“I thought this would be a good time to have Bob come in and help us with the direction we’re going in,” Moore said. “We know what we have to do a lot of times, but we have this fear. This workshop helped us work with that fear.”

Owen’s presentations can apply to religious organizations, companies or even schools. He said the biggest group he’d presented to was 150 high school students participating in a United Way program in the Huntington area.

“They enjoyed what he had to say,” said Huntington United Way Executive Director Kheng McGuire, who attended that workshop as well as others. “Not only was it done with substance, but it was also done with humor. … He is a most uplifting and enthusiastic person.”

McGuire had more of the same to say about Owen’s keynote speeches, which he has also presented to her staff.

His keynote presentations include “Watch your parsley!” which is about presentation; “My brother’s a team player as long as he heads the team,” about how to balance team roles; “Did I say that?!?” about miscommunication; and “Playing well with others,” about how a good attitude and being a team player go hand in hand.

Owen has more than 30 years of experience in communications and public relations, as well as in community service. He received his degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. In addition to keynotes and workshops, he also facilitates meetings and is available for public relations work.

Besides local presentations, Owen has also made statewide presentations, such as for the Kentucky League of Cities, and national presentations, such as to the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.

“A one-man company can succeed nationally and regionally, in addition to locally from right here in Ashland. There are many opportunities here despite the size of the community,” Owen said. “People said I couldn’t make a living here; however, I am, with a number of clients in the Tri-State area.”

Copyright ©1999 -2003 The Daily Independent, Inc.

Bob Owen has:

  • More than 35 years communications and marketing experience with small businesses and organizations, Fortune 50 Companies, and Education Groups
  • Crisis Management Experience
  • Developed local, regional, and national advertising campaigns
  • Presented local, regional, and national keynote addresses and workshops

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