After one of my earliest public presentations had ended many people filed by and spoke words of appreciation and encouragement to me. After almost everyone else had left an elderly lady walked over to me and gave me some words of advice I have never forgotten.
“Young man,” she said, “You need a good job for a beginner. I have some advice for you, if you want it.”
I felt a little slighted, but told her I would welcome her feedback.
“Well,” she continued,” Remember three these three things: 1. Stand up so they can see you. 2. Speak up so they can hear you, and 3. Once you have said what you came to say, Shut Up. You did ok on the first two, but you kept talking too long tonight. Leave us a little room for thinking.”
Then she hugged me and shuffled off.
I eventually got over the injury she inflicted on my pride, but I have never gotten over her words. Time and again I have returned to those words.
1. Stand Up – there are numerous skills that the public speaker needs to master in order for our appearance to assist in our communication. We need to be seen as a part of the message we are communicating.
2. Speak Up – clearly spoken, well chosen words projected to the back of the room will always command attention.
3. Shut Up – Every day presentation should have a beginning, a middle and an end. The end should be as precise as the beginning and must always leave room for people to draw their own conclusions and do their own thinking.
Good advice for all of us who speak in public.
Since this area is due for some more winter weather, I thought I would share some of an email I received last week…
In case you're new to our area, let me tell you how we do winter here.
- Someone somewhere says snow is coming to North Carolina.
- We start paying attention.
- Someone says it's coming to the Triad.
- Now we really start paying attention.
- Someone brandishes the word "accumulation." Done. Finished. Over. We who call North Carolina home all-out lose our minds.
In the case of this snow, it happens like this:
Tuesday morning: The word "accumulation" is used.
Tuesday afternoon: Accumulation confirmed. All weekend plans put on stand-by or out-right canceled.
Tuesday evening: First trip to supermarket for bread, milk, wine, beer and cookie dough.
Wednesday morning / afternoon: Calls around town for sleds begin. No one has them.
Wednesday evening: Local news does a story about the run on supermarkets for bread and milk. Second trip to supermarket for extra bread and milk, plus frozen pizzas and non-perishables, because you never know.
Thursday morning / afternoon: Spend workday obsessively checking the forecast. More calls for sleds. Search online for sleds, but decide against them because you can't believe how much sleds actually cost.
Thursday evening: Meet friends out for drinks or dinner because you never know when you'll get out again. Realize you forgot to buy bagels. How could you forget bagels? Third trip to supermarket.
Friday morning: Alternate staring out window for snow and consulting forecast for exact snow start time. Cancel the rest of weekend plans.
Friday afternoon: Weather.com reports that it is snowing in your area. Run to window. Spend at least one hour yelling at weather.com because it is clearly not snowing. Ask boss about company inclement weather policy. Complain about said policy. Wait an hour; ask boss if company is closing early.
Friday evening: Fourth trip to supermarket on the way home for last-minute necessities, like chocolate and fancy hot cocoa. Alternate staring out window and watching local news for exact snow start time. Watch the Closings scroll to see if your work is closed on Monday, because you never know.
Friday night: Snow finally begins. Call/text all of your friends and family to see if it's snowing in their area and to make sure they're OK in the storm. Update Facebook status to reflect snowfall in case you missed anyone. Order pizza so you don't have to break into rations too soon.
Saturday morning: Marvel at snowfall. Fling pets / children into the snow so they can marvel and so you have pictures for your Facebook page.
Saturday afternoon: Drive or trudge to nearest hill and attempt to sled on a cookie sheet/shower curtain/trashcan lid/pool float.
Saturday evening: Meet friends out for drinks or dinner to celebrate snow.
Sunday: Eat leftover pizza and stare out window, watching snow melt. Obsessively watch Closings list. Feel happy when the county you once lived in announces closing and then sad because you never became a teacher and now you have to go out, clean off the car and then go to work tomorrow. Plus you've got all that bread and milk to eat.
Do you ever find yourself stuck, fingers poised upon the keys and yet – nothing. There is a thought, the beginning of a phrase hanging on the very edge of your mind and then – nothing. You know there is a genesis word needed, or at least some word that will begin the avalanche of prose that is pressing so dutifully upon your mind, straining to flow through you and onto the page and into the world, a message of fine worth and clear depth – waiting for that beginning, that right word to give the process the smallest nudge into existence.
Well, that is where I am tonight and that word eludes me…
Much can be said for miracles. Read for a moment or two on blog topics like wholeness, cancer, poverty or economic struggle and you are sure to run across a ‘miracle story’ or two. Cancers are healed, injuries vanish, accidents are avoided, and consequences evaporate like a morning fog. We find ourselves in awe, even disbelief – amazed.
While all of these events are certainly worth noting and even celebrating, on occasion (like right now) I am reminded of what seems to me to be the greatest miracle of all. This is not a miracle of healing, financial success, physical triumph or an underdog victory. I would describe the greatest of miracles this way: that a person whose very soul is broken, twisted, ill worn and misshapen can - from the very core of their being, change and become someone of loving and graceful spirit.
Or, said another way – that God can transform a human heart.
It is a miracle I depend on, every day.
1. Reconnect me with 6 classmates from High school, 25 years after the school closed.
2. Allow me to peep in on my children’s lives to get a clue how they are really doing (NOTE: never actually engage them over Facebook – not a good idea.)
3. Stay connected with friends and business colleagues on a daily basis. Oh the joy of status updates!
4. Make it easy for my Mother to ‘see’ her children, grandchildren, great grand children and yes great-great grandchild moving through life – and all of us each other and her!
5. Encourage all of the above to have a little fun each day with status update games, apps, photo tagging and more.
Thank you Facebook!