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Pratfalls from the Platform

By Allen Klein

As motivational speaker W. Mitchell says, “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.” If what you do about it is add some humor to those platform mishaps and mistakes, then you are way ahead of the game.

I was hired to do a post-dinner presentation for surgeons and their spouses. After signing the contract, I found out it was a formal event. Since I had no tuxedo, I went to a Costco store and bought one for 99. The tux, made in Yugoslavia, had some weird side buckles; apparently, I didn’t fasten them too well. During the program, one buckle came undone. Then the other one did too. I leaned to one side and caught the falling pants with my elbow. And that is how I remained during the rest of my talk … one hand holding the microphone and the other arm holding up my pants.

I was too new in the speaking business to realize I could have shared what was happening with the audience, instead of hiding it. Had I revealed my dilemma, I probably would have had a chance to buckle up again, and maybe even get a great big laugh.

Perhaps one of the funniest comebacks was told to me by my friend and colleague, Karyn Buxman. One day, she was giving a presentation in an unusually dark ballroom. The walls were black, the carpet was black, and the stage curtain behind her was black.

At one point during her talk, she stepped forward, missed the edge of the stage, and found herself flat on the floor. Although she was startled, she realized she wasn’t hurt, just embarrassed. She also realized the microphone had fallen nearby. So, still lying on the ground, she picked it up and announced to the audience, “And now I will take questions from the floor.”