Original posting date was August 1, 2006
I’m taking a class through my work, designed to help make speaking, speeches and meeting presentations a little more dynamic, a little more fun and a lot more comfortable for those of us lucky enough to have to speak.
Our assignment was simple: Choose one incident that you can share with the class that illustrates a “lesson learned”. Be prepared to tell the class “what I want you to do”, (action to take), and “what this will do for you”- (benefit).
We have two minutes, and there is no “preamble” allowed, just jump right in with “who, when, where”.
Outlined, it looks like this:
- Who, When, Where (your choice of specifics, just set the players).
- The Incident (Use details, actions, make us feel you relive it
- The Action (Specifically, what you want the audience to do)
- The Benefit (To the audience, what’s in it for them)
And that’s it: a two minute talk, thirty of us in class, with the transitions we run about an hour and a half. No notes allowed, no memorized words, just stand and “go”.
I chose this incident from about four years ago, and it was an easy choice because it’s been on my mind lately; so I thought I’d toss it here, as well, to see if it’ll go away; I tried to use the same style that I used when I spoke this morning, but I’m not very good at translating the pauses, and the inflections- but here’s an attempt to get this gone:
Snow is falling heavily as five men and one woman skid and slip their way to the firehouse; peering through the early morning, praying as cars’ tires spin, snake-like trails left in the snow behind them as they park and jump for the truck.
Can’t see much of anything from the back of the cab, as all of us lean forward, tense and heart-racing; the snow is so heavy, it reflects the red of the emergency flashers on the roof, looks like drops of blood rushing at the windshield. 48,000 pounds of fire engine, and even with that weight it’s struggling for traction, as we respond to a two car accident, “…reported head-on, unknown injuries, possible entrapment…” Our best driver behind the wheel, and he slips the heavy truck around corners, siren blaring.
Arriving, evaluating- two cars indeed, what may have been a Honda something, and a Chevy blazer.
Imagine the controlled chaos, as we slide around bringing heavy tools to bear…
“cut there.. watch that window glass”
“stabilize her head, hold it now”…
“aww, look out, can someone reach that bleeder and get pressure on it?”…
“bring the ram, here”…
“will someone please help me get more pressure on this leg?”…
And from the crews not directly working:
“Spot the ambulance in front of the rescue”…
“State police said they’re going to be at least 20 minutes, no one can get through this crap”…
“Freaking snow, on top of frozen rain… and not a chance in hell of launching a bird”…
“freezing, look, it looks like hydraulic fluid, as it freezes where it drips off the bottom of the car”…
And from the apparatus, the vehicles, diesels roaring at idle, the generator for the Hurst tools squealing as the ram folds the dash, as the cutter head bites into metal and tears the roof off, opens her door; we get a backboard in, the seat back is removed.
Lifting, holding her head, pressure on the bleeding wounds, to a gurney, to an ambulance.
The last we knew, she was still breathing…
Oh, yes, it was a two car accident. The other driver, the kid in the SUV?
He didn’t make it. We covered him with a sheet, he’d bled out before we arrived.
So, please- wear your seat belts:far, far better to be cut loose, than covered with the sheet.