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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Just Before Show Time

Don’t Rely on Them to Tell You

Many years ago, I was teaching at ‘Willis College of Business and Technology’ in Ottawa. I was sitting on the front corner of the teacher’s desk, explaining a point to the class, and I could feel something amiss about the energy level in the room. The class, comprised mostly of women, seemed to be in a strange, an almost silly, mood.

I concluded that it was due to my magnetic personality, causing the class full of women to be so capricious in my presence. Then, one of the ladies at the back of the room held up her hand. I acknowledged her, and she said, “We have a problem.”

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“Your fly is down!” She replied, as she giggled. I looked down, and saw that she was telling the truth. Not only was my zipper down, but, because of the manner in which I was sitting on the edge of the desk, there was also a gaping hole to make it easier for the class to peer into my pants. I looked completely ridiculous!

Before I entered the class room that day, I had chatted with at least a half dozen other people, any one of whom could have drawn my attention to the open crater in my midsection. However, it was my own responsibility to check those things before I stepped up to teach, and I neglected to do so.

When I was in high school, we had one geography teacher who always wiped the chalk off the board with his hands. (Back then it was chalk boards, not white boards.) He would then unconsciously wipe his hands on the seat of his pants.

Every time he turned his back to the class to write something on the board, there were two giant hand prints on his butt. As far as I know, no one ever mentioned it to him, because we all thought it was too funny. Maybe he did it on purpose, who knows? But the point is that none of us were going to tell him how foolish he looked.

Before you speak, go into the bathroom and examine yourself in the mirror. Make sure your zipper’s up, your suit pockets are empty, your hair is the way you want it, your tie is straight, your dress or skirt isn’t clinging, and you’re happy with the way you look. Most importantly, make sure there aren’t any green or black things stuck in your teeth!

So, what’s the lesson? Don’t rely on other people to tell you about a wardrobe malfunction, check it out for yourself, before you speak.

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