“Oh, you’re a motivational speaker? That must be so much fun!”
I hear those words a lot. And the truth is, it is fun. But make no mistake, it has a dark side, too. A “you won’t believe what happened” side that makes for some great stories. Check it out…
1. There was the time that after I checked in to a schmancy hotel and took my bags up to my room, I opened the room door to find a couple making whoopee on the bed. I can’t unsee that picture…
2. Once I spoke in a high school auditorium to 450 bored, tired, cranky teenagers who didn’t want to be there. And since they had no sound system that worked, they brought me a karaoke machine with a microphone attached to the end of a 2 foot cord. For 50 minutes I did my best impression of McBeth, all snarly and hunched over. McBeth was lucky. McDuff killed him. I couldn’t stand up straight for a week.
3. Oh! And speaking of teenagers, there was the time I spoke to 17,000 (not a typo) of them at a Future Farmers of America conference in a stadium the size of Rhode Island. I walked out on that enormous stage and because the bazillion watt stadium lights were shining on me, I couldn’t see a SINGLE person in the audience. AND because they were all so far away from me, I couldn’t hear them either. Which meant that after I gave them my very best, fall-out-of-your-chair funny stuff, all I could hear was…crickets. I’m thinking that experience was what taking LSD must be like.
4. I remember the time I was having dinner in a really nice restaurant the night before I spoke and I asked the server for hot blueberry pie and ice cream for dessert. When it arrived and was clearly not hot, I asked the server if she could take it back and warm it up. She promptly stuck her finger IN the pie, and said, “No, it’s warm,” and walked away. My only consolation was the thought that after she left she scratched her nose with her BLUE finger tip.
5. And one of my favorites, was in gorgeous Cancun, Mexico. The entire conference actually ended at noon on Saturday and I was scheduled to speak for one hour after dinner that night at 8 p.m. before the dancing started at 9 p.m. And since we were at an all-inclusive resort, that meant that from noon until Happy Hour at 6 p.m., all 500 attendees were lying in the hot sun having a Happy Afternoon pounding back F.R.E.E. drinks. Oh, and did I mention that they were coming down to the ballroom for Happy Hour, dinner and my presentation – dressed as their favorite movie characters? Right. As I took the stage and looked out over the drunk crowd, I knew I was in big trouble. Right in front of me at the center table was a very old, very sunburned Harry Potter who was trying to feel up Marilyn Monroe who was drooling in her own lap. No one – read my lips – NO ONE was paying any attention to me except the president of the company who was also at the front table hanging on my every word. Laughing at my every joke. Nodding, smiling and taking notes. It was something out of a bad Monty Python movie. I took one hour’s worth of material smashed it into 35 minutes and quickly left the stage as the band started playing. I walked directly to the closest door out of the ballroom that I could find, opened it, walked in and shut it behind me. It turned out to be a storage closet.
So the next time someone tells you they are a motivational speaker, instead of saying, “Oh that must be so much fun!” you might want to say something like, “Oh, wow. Do you need a hug?”
And if you ARE a motivational speaker – PLEASE share your funniest story here! Let’s let the world know the WHOLE story!!!