• Some Privacy, Please?

    Once upon a time, a public speaker named Pam learned that she shouldn’t eat a meal prior to giving a presentation. Here's how it went down:

    I had a 7:30 a.m. flight to Hilo to give a customer service workshop for over 100 employees of a credit union. This required a 3:30 wake-up call, disrupting my normal routine of “easing into my day.” 

    My host picked me up at the Hilo airport and took me to a breakfast buffet, and—oh my—what a lavish affair that was!

    I was scheduled to be the second presenter of the morning, but the first presenter missed his flight, so I was immediately thrust on-stage the moment of my arrival.

    About half an hour into my talk, I felt rumbling “down there.” I hoped it was a false alarm, but as someone once crassly put it, “Oh, no, my friend. That train had left the station.”

    I needed to visit the ladies' room and I needed to do that now.

    It was too soon to call a break, so I invented a “paired sharing” exercise. “Turn to your neighbor and take turns sharing about a challenging customer service situation and how you handled it. You have five minutes.”

    I casually left the stage, as if planning to roam around the room, but instead I made a wild escape to the ladies’ room. I expected and hoped for blissful privacy.

    But . . . NO! Several other women seized this opportunity to visit the bathroom too! How dare they flagrantly ignore the assignment, and how dare they invade my privacy? Now I had to do the flush and flush again routine to try to mask my embarrassing activity. Enough said. 

    Back to the front of the room I go. “You have one more minute, everyone!” 

    I've covered this in another entry, but it's worth repeating why you might want to avoid eating before you speak:

    1. Spinach from your omelette might be coating one of your two front teeth. 
    2. You might mess up your lipstick. You can’t take out a mirror and examine your teeth and fix your makeup at the table. 
    3. If you leave the room to freshen up, you might miss some important information, such a clue about a topic you should avoid. 
    4. You might burp.
    5. Eating stimulates digestion. Digestion can lead to the bathroom at an inopportune time.