Giving a speech with an open gash on the top of your head is a challenging thing to do.
I was invited to deliver a speech the other day. I still get a little nervous whenever I’m asked to do so, but I always deliver a performance that brings the audience to the edge of their seats and leaves them begging for more when I conclude. Public speaking is often listed as the greatest fear of nearly everyone in public. Even when my brain is telling me that there is nothing to worry about, my hands will shake like a tree in the wind—a really big tree, with hurricane force winds.
Way back in high school, I had an excellent speech teacher. I can’t remember his name (which is kind of a shame), but I can remember his greatest advice for public speaking skills. His lesson that helped me avoid the shaky hands is to use physical strength and energy. In doing this just before you speak, you will find that your hands tend to relax. It works for me. If I am sitting in a chair prior to me taking the podium, I will reach down to the sides of the chair and pull upward with all I have. It’s a simple exercise, but one that requires no moving. Perfect for using up physical energy without people thinking, “Hey, why is that guy over there doing jumping jacks?”
On this particular event, I was standing in a corridor just outside the room where I would be speaking. No chair in sight. So rather than try to make myself levitate, I decided that jumping would be a good release of energy. Nothing crazy, I didn’t want to get sweaty. A simple jump every thirty seconds or so. Time was passing and the jumping was getting boring. So I moved up to the next level. I remember thinking to myself, “I wonder if I can get my head to touch the drop paneled ceiling.” Well, I couldn’t. It was a fairly high ceiling. But I was able to absolutely drive my skull into the florescent light fixture just behind me.
Blood oozing from the top of my head, “Mr. Matherne, you’re on.”
You remember that not-so-helpful lesson of “picture your audience in their underwear”? Well, that doesn’t work. And now that I was seeing double, my audience was suddenly twice the size. Good thing they were all blurry.
“Good evening. My name is Marcus Matherne and in order to complete a bet, tonight I will be giving my entire address with one hand place on the top of my head. Who’s with me?”