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Does anyone ever have to give public speeches?
Entered on: April 11, 2005 1:46 AM by The Bone
Friday night I had to make a speech at what's called a "Hail and Farewell". Basically any time a new officer arrives at a command or one leaves, the Wardroom has a social function to honor the occasion. Well Friday was my Farewell along with another Lieutenant and two Commanders who are also departing. Along with all the officers are their wives as well - so it's a pretty big crowd.  
All day long I'm trying to think of a clever speech but nothing is coming to me. When I arrive at the function I still don't have a good handle on what I'm going to say so I'm basically shitting my pants. I finally decide that I'm just going to get up there say a couple thank you's and sit the fuck down.  
Well the first guy called up is my friend Steve. He gets up there and delivers a phenomenal speech ? poignant, funny at times, and very well delivered. While he is delivering it I?m in full panic mode. There is no way I can get up there and deliver my quick little thank you ? especially since I?m the number one ranked Lieutenant in the command. They are going to expect much more from me and after Steve?s speech, it?s going to be hard to come close.  
The Commodore calls me up next and says a bunch of good things about me. The whole time I?m fucking wondering what the hell I?m about to say. Finally he sits down and turns the floor over to me. All eyes are fixed upon me and I just start talking. It?s almost like I?m having an out of body experience. The words start flowing and I really don?t know where they are coming from. As the words come out, I?m thinking, ?Holy shit ? this sounds fucking incredible.? After about ten minutes or so I wrap it up and receive a huge round of applause. I sit down and this guy sitting next to me tells me that my speech was fucking amazing.  
I give lectures before groups of people all the time for work but I am well prepared and know the material in and out so I?m usually not nervous. However, Friday night I hadn?t a clue what I was going to say and over half the people in attendance are senior officers and their wives ? somewhat intimidating. I don?t think I have ever been so nervous in my life. It?s just amazing to me that it went so well and I was actually able to speak so well off the cuff.  

NEWS 274 - 8 Comments
From: The Bone Entered on: April 11, 2005 1:50 AM
On a seperate note, I was standing in line for the register at Old Navy today and Hurley from Lost walked by me. He was with some girl so I just gave him a nod hello as I didn't want to be intrusive. It was pretty cool.
From: Ross Entered on: April 11, 2005 7:28 AM
That's pretty sweet, Bone. A few years back, I used to have to give talks/speeches on a fairly regular basis. As you alluded, the key is knowing your shit and/or taking comfort that your audience knows less than you or are generally idiots. This is how my normally socially reclusive father is able to give entertaining lectures every day. The true scare comes in when you have to talk to superiors who could at any moment stop you and say "excuse me Johnson, haven't you considered the flywheel pinvalve approach?" and your whole argument falls to shit. Of course this never happens and you just have to go on faith that it won't.  
All I know is that when I started doing them, I was pretty scared at first but at least in professional situations people are not really looking for you to fail miserably up there, I think most people see themselves up there and cut you some slack. And yeah, it is amazing when all of a sudden you start speaking like an elder statesman when two minutes beforehand you were Stuttering John.  
And dude, I love Hurley.
From: Creeko Entered on: April 11, 2005 8:06 AM
"flywheel pinvalve approach" where did you come up with that one? The way you delivered it almost made me squirt coffee out of my nose.  
I once had to speak in front of about 200 people in Spanish. It went about as smoothly as someone constipated tiring to take a dump. I can handle small groups in a face to face situation, but when you turn the lights down and its you, alone, behind a podium in front of the whole company? I got a little nervous.  

From: Jackzilla Entered on: April 11, 2005 8:51 AM
Back in college during an Oral Rhetoric class, I recall one fellow student that clearly lost it during his speech. It was dry material, first of all, which is a big mistake (interest rates and the economy). You could see the panic in his eyes as he began to lose his way in the material and make mistakes. His face grew white. His speech slowed down. And then he actually sat down on the floor, underneath the blackboard and said "I'm sorry." All in front of the class. The room was silent. Finally the professor came to the rescue and I think the student left the class of embarassment. I heard later that he tried his presentation again in front of another class.  
Nothing like going into the fetal position during your speech.  
As for me, I finally got rid of the podium at Rookies because I just wasn't making enough public addresses. Now Angie, she just drove to Detroit a couple weeks ago and had to talk in front of 800 people (over the course of 3 seperate sessions) for Blue Cross. Never assumed the fetal position once.
From: Ross Entered on: April 11, 2005 10:47 AM
Flywheel pinvalve comes from an old standup routine by a comedian named Brian Regan. He used it in a bit about monster truck drivers describing how they win their events to the reporters. Since then I've used it as my codeword for gobbledygook jargon that I don't understand.
From: Swerb Entered on: April 11, 2005 3:55 PM
"... and right then, I knew I had to GUN it!"  
I occasionally have to talk in front of people when teachers ask me to talk to their classes for career day or something. I sometimes prepare ahead of time, but it usually works for me just to wing it. It's not very intimidating considering they're usually high school students (although it sucks when it's obvious there are a few indifferent little shits in the class, kind of like myself back in school). But the point is, it all kind of depends on the day - sometimes I'm comfortable and it works, and sometimes I'm not, and no amount of preparation can help; you just feel awkward going through the prepared material. I've found that, if people are receptive to your even being there in the first place, you're much better off than if you're walking into a hostile or indifferent room.  
Plus, I'm a fucking celebrity around this town, so I inspire much worship. (insert laughter here)  
But it's pretty easy when you're just telling people about your job and yourself. Nobody knows more about me than Stacy, but I'm a close second, which makes me qualified to discuss the subject.
From: BigFatty Entered on: April 11, 2005 5:35 PM
Its no surprise to me that you did so well, Bone. All your instructor time has made you a decent speaker. All you did before your speech was to get all nerved up. But, it does sound like you got inspired and had a bit of luck too. Maybe you will go into infomerials after the Navy.  
My public speaking experience comes from High School, were I did quite a lot of speaking as a Planned Parenthood rep. - a Peer Educator. I gave classes to Middle School students on 'How to say NO.' There was also a few conferences and fundraising gigs I had to speak at. It was a great experience. I also joined Toastmasters International while at Steelcase. Its a speaking club that works to improve your speaking. The key to this is practice, practice, practice. The more you do, the better you get. This is why I was not too surprised at your success.  
Kinda of off subject, but I am reminded of a phenomenon I have observed - I'll call it Management Speak Syndrome. I've noticed that quite a few people who have been in management positions for some time tend to talk a lot more than normal people and tend to dominate conversations. I figure they are used to being in a position were people HAVE to listen to them, and get plenty of opportunities that they must talk to people. They get to be so bad to talk with. They don't even listen to you cause they are too busy talking. I guess it is a part of corporate culture were subordinates look to their superiors for leadership and guidance. That all the nut-holding gives the manager the feeling of 'Hey, I must be pretty smart'.  
I can imagine it is the same in the armed forces. Do you notice that a lot of officers can just blow a lot of hot air, Bone? Yourself, excluded of course!
From: TallPat Entered on: April 12, 2005 8:23 PM
I don't know which is funnier, Ross still using "flywheel pinvalve", or Swerb knowing how the joke ends! That comes from the very early days of Comedy Central when there really wasn't anything else on but stand-up all day long. A classic for sure....

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