Spotlight On: Paul Huschilt, Storyteller Extraordinaire
Imagine ending your conference with a hilarious comic summary about all that was said and done—from early-morning registration to late-night social events? Paul Huschilt does just that with his trademark “Ultimate Ending” routine, which showcases his uncanny observations and razor-sharp wit. With a passion for wellness, he frequently turns his talents to talks about the importance of stress reduction, and using humor as a conduit for connection. We put the spotlight on Paul this morning:
What inspired you to want to be a speaker?
In 1999, prior to presenting a serious talk on career counseling, a client asked me to do five minutes of “something funny.” Based on that, someone in the group hired me to do a funny keynote, and the rest is history.
Any advice for aspiring speakers?
Have fun on stage, ask audiences for feedback, and always know the needs of your client.
What do you like to leave audiences with?
I want people to leave having laughed till they cried, and inspired to live their lives to the fullest.
How do you prepare before a talk? Any special rituals? A good luck talisman?
I’m not one to believe in luck. A friend taught me to focus briefly on each of these four thoughts before a talk: “I am glad I am here. I am glad you are here. I care about you. I know what I know.” Then, I remember how much I love performing, and how I want to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives.
Do you have an especially memorable event you can tell us about?
When I was just seven years old, my family – all 10 of us – traveled around Europe in a Volkswagen van. I recreate this on stage to teach large audiences about team building, resilience, and dealing with change.
Any funny or embarrassing situations you found yourself in as a speaker?
Early on in my career, I found myself using a flipchart in front of 300 people when the presentation format was suddenly switched from workshop to keynote. The flipchart was obviously the wrong piece of AV, but it inspired me to incorporate it into my talks in a funny way. Now I have fun with flipcharts and overhead projectors for audiences numbering in the thousands.
Is there a charitable cause that you feel passionate about? Why?
I’ve endowed a scholarship at the University of Windsor’s theatre department (where I studied acting) in memory of my grandmother Grace, who passed away at 104 ½. She started acting around the age of 95 and was such an inspiration, I decided to carry that joy forward by helping out young people in her name.
If you had to choose a new career, what would it be?
If I had limitless time, I would learn languages. That said, I already perform in French, English and occasionally Japanese. I hope to soon start working in German and Spanish.
Desert island album?
Although I’m a trained singer who has sung with the Canadian Opera Company, I rarely listen to music. I do sometimes wake up in the morning humming Donizetti’s “Una Furtiva Lagrima.”
Best subject in school?
My grades in physics were among the highest in high school and university.
Last book you read?
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.
Last film you saw?
Recently, I enjoyed Un Plan Parfait on a flight home from Australia.