Early on in my speaking career I was speaking at a Rotary Club in Berkeley where we were fed pasta, meat with gravy, and ice cream with a rich topping. At that time, I was not yet aware how quickly high carbohydrate meals turn to sugar. This will cause most people to experience sugar spikes and get incredibly tired. Fortunately, I barely ate a bite because I was too nervous.
When it was time to get up and talk about how the Rotary group in Berkeley could support the new incubator in Oakland, I noticed that at the second table back, a man in his mid-60’s sat with his arms crossed and he had his eyes closed. As I began to enlighten my audience, this gentleman began to snore. Most of the other members laughed softly, while still paying attention to my talk the best they could.
Then the snoring became unbearably loud. It was impossible for the audience to concentrate on what I wanted them to hear. Some of them couldn’t even hear me over the snoring.
Feeling distracted, I walked out into the group and laid my hand gently on the snoring member’s arm. He immediately jerked awake and looked around the room at all the smiling faces.
I leaned in close to him and asked, “Would you like to join the rest of us?”
Everyone, including the man who was snoring, had a good laugh.
That was the magic moment in which I became a professional speaker. I took control of the situation and I gained their respect because of the way I handled the instance.
From that moment on, I have never let my nervousness distract me from the purpose of inspiring and informing a group. When unforeseen situations occur, I work with them instead of resisting them.