Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Adventures in Public speaking.

Adventures in Public speaking.

During the latter half of the 2000's, I was the President of the International Nortel Networks Users Association "INNUA", which was one of the largest independent telecommunications associations in the world with close to 80 local chapters in 35 different countries globally.

The first conference I presided over was in the Summer of 2006 in San Diego, CA which had with 3000 plus members in attendance.

In addition to press conferences, meetings with executives from our industry partners, one of my key responsibilities as President, was to deliver a state of the association speech kicking off our annual conference.

Many people have said public speaking is more frightening to them than death.  Let me tell you, as someone who struggled with Speech class in college, speaking in front of several thousand people could be considered to be just a little nerve wracking to say the least, especially when you have never used a teleprompter before.

So the evening of the big event is here.  I am to enter from the rear of the stage.
I had forgotten the stage was two tiered and proceeded to stumble to the podium
very much like Dick Van Dyke, just not completely falling down.

So, I make my way to the podium after a less than graceful entrance out on to the stage, and proceed to deliver my speech. Which, went off without a hitch.  At the end of my presentation, I introduce the Bill Owens, the CEO of Nortel who was going to speak for about 30 minutes.

I exit the stage, go around back and sit in the audience to listen to Bill's presentation.  At the conclusion, Bill begins to take a few questions from the audience, which is my cue to go back stage and prepare to come back on stage for a few closing remarks then adjourn the meeting for a reception.

So, I am standing backstage wearing a brand new suit 90 seconds before I am to go back out infront of 3000 plus people and I feel something hit my shoe.  I glance down and discover the zipper pull to my new slacks laying on the floor with my zipper splayed wide open and a white shirt tail exposed for the world to see.

I quickly asked one of the folks backstage if they had a safety pin.  To which, they replied no and asked what happened.  I explained my zipper had broken.  Quickly thinking, I asked one of the stage hands from our A/V production company if they had any gaffers tape which for those of you who don't know, gaffers tape is flat black duct tape.  They gave me a 6 inch strip, which I used to tape my fly shut and button my sports coat then make my way out to the podium with out stumbling this time mind you.

No one knew about my wardrobe malfunction.

I bellied up to the podium and delivered my closing comments with out incident.
Our Executive Director came up to me as I was standing backstage after the presentation and exclaimed "You did not let the stumble rattle you.  Most people would have forgotten where they were at and what they were doing after that".  To which I replied "Thanks, you just know the half of it. My zipper broke 90 seconds before I came back out on stage and I repaired it with gaffers tape".  I proceeded to pull my coat tail back and show him the tape.  He said no one even knew or noticed.  We all got a good laugh at that the situation.

The following year, while on stage I was to pause and introduce a video from our platinum sponsor.
Guess what happened when I introduced the video and turned to the screen.   Nothing, Nada, Black Screen, Crickets.  Quickly thinking on my feet, I went back to my script on the teleprompter and continued with my speech.

With one paragraph to go in the speech, there was a pause for emphasis.  So, I said "Let's see if they have the video queued up and ready to go".  I turned to the screen and voila the video played.

After the presentation, out Executive Director came backstage and asked me if they wrote that recovery into the script? Or, did I ad-lib it?". I replied I flew by the seat of my pants and did what they do on the evening news when they have technical difficulties and kept on with the script.

So, how does this all relate to multi-sports and racing?  Stay tuned for my next post where I relive some moments from my 2015 racing season where things didn't go as planned.

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