Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Tip for Your Next Presentation

My first job was washing chicken deposits off of eggs and packing them in cardboard containers for 50 cents an hour. I descended down rickety stairs into an old, drafty basement with a lone electric light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Within five minutes of my first afternoon at work, an egg rolled off the table and crashed on the cement floor. Then I dropped one egg on another, breaking them both. When the top of a carton failed to close, I hit it with the heel of my hand and cracked three more eggs. 5 eggs were trashed and my largesse 3 hours later was $1.50. When my employer dropped me off at my home, I reluctantly, but with integrity, handed her back 25 precious cents to pay for the losses. She growled, “Keep the money, you’ll get better.” I did. I was 12 years old. I also cleaned houses and toilets for 50 cents an hour. It was a tough job market - like today.

Then I was offered a job as substitute organist for St. Therese church and made $1 each weekday morning for playing and singing the mass in Latin. Soon I was in demand for other ceremonies. I loved opening up all the stops on the organ to play Lohengrin’s wedding march and received $5 for each joyous occasion. I dutifully practiced putting emotion into the hymns I played for funerals. I checked the obituaries for local Catholics as grateful mourners usually paid me the generous amount of $10.00. Of course there were families who hurried out the door after the corpse in their feigned sorrow and ignored a frantic little girl waving and running after the hearse. I also earned money winning talent contests where I sang love ballads, played a jazzy piano or did double baton-twirling and gymnastics. Being an artist was so much more rewarding than cleaning dirty chicken eggs.

This was how I learned people would pay handsomely for your services if you entertained or inspired them. Later in life as a professional speaker and a coach, I realized it was paramount to give my audiences useful information but my presentations were really successful if I touched my audience emotionally or they had fun. I hope you’ve found a purposeful job you enjoy. Be mindful of the basic human desire for connection in your daily communications.