I have not often admitted this, but I was inspired to become a public speaker by perhaps the worst motivational speaker I've ever heard in my life.
This fellow is still working, surprisingly, so I won't give his name. He was the opening speaker in a seminar I attended early in my speaking career and he nearly closed the show early with his monotone, unenthusiastic presentation. As he spoke, the room grew as quiet as a graveyard between funerals.
I went to sleep to be awakened by what could only be called courtesy applause for his presentation. You could make more noise clapping with one hand. After the less-than-stirring speech, I leaned over to the guy sitting next to me and said, "That was really boring." And he said, "You should be so boring for the kind of money he makes." The fellow told me this terrible speaker was making $5,000 for each terrible speech.
After hearing how much money a really bad speaker could make, I decided it was time for me to go after this dream. A few days later, I caught a Greyhound bus from Miami to Orlando where I'd signed up for a seminar for beginners held by the National Speakers Association. It seemed like the bus ride took weeks. I know it took every last dollar I could scrape together. And so I was road-weary but eager to hear some inspiring, motivational, and dynamic speaking when I finally took a seat at the event. But who should walk out to lead the first session but that same terrible $5,000-per-speech speaker? I could not believe it!
All that time on a stinking bus, stopping in every one-horse town between Miami and Orlando, to hear this guy again? I nearly got up and walked out. By the time he'd gotten halfway through his speech, nearly half the audience had fled. But I stayed on until the bitter end and the speaker's parting shot, as it turned out, was worth the price of admission. He obviously had noted the exodus of the audience and the drooping eyelids of those who remained because, as he built up to his anticlimax, he stopped suddenly, looked out at the remaining numbers of aspiring public speakers and said, "You know, the only reason that I am standing up here and you are sitting down there is that I represent the thoughts that you have rejected for yourself." I don't know about the other dozen or so people in the audience, but Mr. Monotone hit me right between the eyes with that shot. It was true. He had acted upon something that I had only dreamt of doing. I'd spent years dreaming of becoming a public speaker. But dreaming was all I had done. This guy may not have had any talent for it. He may have been the most undynamic public speaker in history. But he was up there while I was still dreaming. And so that is how I became motivated to start a new career by perhaps the worst motivational speaker I have ever heard.
Les Brown is an internationally recognized speaker and author. To receive more information on Les's speaking schedule, books and audiocassettes visit www.yoursuccessstore.com and save 20%-40%.