Disastrous (Funny Story)

Disastrous (Funny Story)

When I was the Marketing Director for a New York City television station, I became an in-demand speaker. The first presentation I ever agreed to do was on How to Give an Effective Presentation for the MBA students at NYU’s Stern School of Business and I wanted it to be perfect. However, having never done any public speaking, I was quite nervous.

My husband helped me rehearse multiple times beginning a couple of weeks before, until I felt prepared.
But I still decided to take notes on index cards to have with me as a reminder tool, just in case I forgot anything.

The day arrived. My husband kindly took the day off from his job to accompany me, knowing I was still very anxious following a completely sleepless night.
I remember my heart pounding so hard that he said he could actually see my blouse moving!

When I was introduced, I grabbed my cards, began walking up the three steps to the stage  . . . and clumsily tripped and my cards went flying everywhere.
There was some nervous laughter in the audience as the professor and I gathered my 23 cards and to my horror, I realized I had failed to number them!

I took my place at the podium, steeled my nerves and began with, “Lesson Number 1 of 'How to Give an Effective Presentation': Make sure to number your notecards!”  Everyone relaxed and we all laughed.
I then threw the cards on the floor and began my presentation with “Lesson Number 2: Rehearse and know your subject matter so cards are unnecessary!”

Thankfully, I had rehearsed enough and thoroughly knew what I was talking about to give a really wonderful presentation.
I used dropping the notecards by explaining that “even experts and seasoned speakers get nervous.” And the final lesson was to inject humor into everything you do and your audience will remember you fondly!

I received a standing ovation and several students told me they thought I had planned the notecard drop as a brilliant and memorable way to begin.
I have employed that notecard trick several times, but always on purpose! When I have coached clients who are nervous about public speaking, I share this story and one of them actually did this to put her audience…and herself... at ease!