HUMOR ME Finding the funny in a speaker’s life
Platform: check. People: check. Presentation: check. Everything seemed in order for my speaking debut. As a corporate civil- ity and image consultant, I
knew audience members would size me
up the second they laid eyes on me. My
new dove grey suit, which I purchased
specifically for that day, was perfectly tailored and fit like a glove. I was primped,
preened and ready to perform.
Taking to the platform like a kid to
candy, I adopted an animated style that
serves me well to this day. Everything went
exactly as planned, not a hitch in sight.
Or so I thought.
As we gathered for a post-presentation
chat, it seemed a little odd when a gaggle
of seminar goers began sharing stories
about their most embarrassing moments. I
naively thought they were inspired by my
message and seeking advice, which I willingly shared. Still, something wasn’t quite
right. Things felt a little, well, awkward.
I wrote off my feelings as primary
presentation paranoia and forgot the
buzz I heard.
The next time I donned that suit was
to speak at a major corporate event. Just
before addressing the audience, I looked
in the mirror for my final image check.
That’s when I saw a price tag hanging
under my left armpit. Not just any price
tag, but one that was big enough to house
a spare button and extra thread. So big
that it swung around every time I raised
my arm, which I’d done with fervor mere
I was horrified! Vivid images of my
onstage gesticulations during my debut
“That’s when I
saw a price tag
my left armpit.
So big that it
every time I
raised my arm,
which I’d done
with fervor mere
presentation came flooding back. How on
earth could I have allowed such an oversight? I advise executives about having
a strong corporate image, and yet I had
stood before a group of their peers doing a
bad impression of Minnie Pearl.
Thankfully, I have recovered from that
event of a dozen years ago. But it made
me realize that my wardrobe—and my
mouth—could unexpectedly malfunction
again, like the time I was walking with
purpose from one side of the stage to the
other to make my final point. Suddenly,
the heel of my shoe got caught in a gap.
Undaunted, I walked right out of that ani-mal-print stiletto and kept going, secretly
thankful for the relief it provided one of
my aching feet.
Or the tongue-tied moment when I was
speaking to a group of businesswomen
about building a professional ward-
robe. I meant to say “women who wear
double-breasted suits” and instead said
“double-breasted women who wear suits.”
But nothing can compare to what hap-
pened a few weeks ago. When I returned
home from my office, my husband greeted
me with laughter. “Honey,” he smirked,
“the back of your dress is caught in your
I chose to ignore the fact that I’d just
walked down a busy street to get to my
car. Talk about getting exposure!
Sue Jacques helps individuals and business leaders gain confidence, earn respect and create courteous corporate cultures. A regular media guest, she recently
appeared on Oprah Radio’s The Gayle King
Show. Visit www.thecivilityceo.com.