I only just realized that it’s nearly November (despite my being fully aware of Halloween’s imminent arrival) and that means that I have a reading–one last reading–for Love Is a Four-Letter Word. It’s this Sunday, November 1, from 7:00–8:00 pm, at Freebird Books in Brooklyn. It’ll be a cozy little affair, just me and Amanda Stern. Come enjoy, come to patronize a very lovely independent bookstore, come if only to lament the passing of the great Pitstop Restaurant next door, which (from what I’ve heard, at least) closed for good.
I hope you all can make it. I especially encourage attendance from those of you for whom SoHo, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Greenpoint were all too convenient to get to. If you like a transit challenge, you will indeed enjoy this one.
Business conferences. It seems like some people attend them just for the embroidered backpacks, the chafing dishes full of institutional eggs, and the Kool & The Gang singalongs in the hotel bar. Here’s a thought bubble: Perhaps, at the end of the day, attending the conference sessions is the biggest of the pain points in attending a conference.
Bottom line. Just thought I’d run that up the flagpole.
But not me! I read the abstracts, and I take notes, and I rock the fucking name tag. I’ve never led a plenary session (plenary plenary plenary; everyone loves saying that because it makes you sound like you’re going to talk about curing cancer) or even presented a paper. (These are not part of my core competencies. Going forward, though, I think I’m going to add that to my personal development plan.)
And I came home from my recent conference with a whole new outlook. Not just because I learned about introducing Zimbra or Moodle or Google Wave to your organization. No, my biggest takeaway was the amazing experience our group (of loosely affiliated, self-identified cool people) shared at a brew pub one night. “Joan,” our server, was Pareto’s heir apparent. When she spoke, we were enthralled. Everything was recontextualized.
I didn’t have time to pick up her abstract before she kicked us out that night, so I’ve put together the talking points from her talk. I think you’ll relate to it. It’s totally scalable.
Straight Up Now Tell Me: Managerial Public Speaking Best Practices, as presented by “Joan,” our server at the bar
1. Start with a powerful declaration.
OK people, I need you all to shut up for a minute because I’m only going to tell you this once.
2. Outline your actionable items.
We have FOUR BEERS. FOUR. Pilsner, Wheat, Amber, and Bitter. The first two are light. The Amber is amber. The Bitter is a darker amber.
3. Make your aspiration statement.
I’m going to take your order based on where you’re sitting at the table. You, guy over there, go sit in your seat. Anyone who moves will NOT GET THEIR DRINK.
4. Create synergy by making people question everything they think they know.
What kinds of wine do we have? Why the hell would you order wine in a brew pub? What’s wrong with you?
5. Draw your audience in with a personal anecdote everyone can relate to.
Religion is dumb. My father’s an evangelical. He’s also a tax-dodger.
…And he abused me.
6. Speak to the individual.
You told me I should pick a drink for you. So now you have a pink drink with two cherries in it. They symbolize your balls.
7. End with a call to action.
This tip is not nearly large enough. It needs to be bigger.
As I said the other day, I have a fractious relationship with the Midwest. I have been to Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, and now St. Louis. Also Cincinnati, sortof, but technically I was in Kentucky most of the time. So, I’ll say that I ate Skyline chili in Cincinnati. The rest of those places, I visited.
And I have come away with nothing but love for the people I’ve met while there.* Because you know why? New Yorkers are horrendous, nasty, oblivious monsters.** (Though not as bad as the Spanish tourists who come here.***) Thus, when I go someplace else and check into a hotel and the person behind the desk does more than grunt when he addresses me IT IS A TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCE. Or when a server in a restaurant acts all cheerful about bringing me my food.**** Or when the cashier at a grocery store makes small talk about the delicious juice I’m buying and don’t you just love juice?
Look, I understand that they’re just faking it. But I like to be lied to. Fucking lie to me already. It makes me happy. (This is also why I loved living in the South.)
So I caught some flak awhile back because I said some less-than-flattering things about the food in Chicago. (And also about Local H*****.) Let me tell you–if you want to get Chicagoans riled up, comment on their penchant for deep-frying everything and pouring melted cheese and ranch dressing all over it and piling it on a plate the size of a skimboard. (Nobody cares if you mention their legacy of corrupt politicians or dramatic socioeconomic stratification.)
They get especially pissed off when you say things like
You can order just about anything, provided it contains meat and/or cheese. At this restaurant, they had a “Light Bites” section, which included hot wings and something called “Sausage Salad.” We ordered burgers, because it turns out that if you want to order something other than that at this restaurant you have to have a note from your oncologist.
And LC remarked, “I never thought I’d find myself in the position of specifying that I don’t want Alfredo sauce on my hamburger.”
The food was similar in St. Louis. We were relegated to mostly shitty restaurants, it’s true. (We had two amazing meals–both of which were also astoundingly huge.) Flagons of ranch dressing and surprise melted cheese toppings (or fillings).
However, the people in St. Louis were the loveliest people in the world (on par with Omaha, I’d say, but also extremely apologetic about the weather and the cable box in your room not functioning properly). So I will forgive them for their dressing, for they know not what they do.
In part 2, which I plan to get around to writing before New Year’s, I’ll discuss the one anomaly we encountered, and what everyone can learn from her.
*Sweeping generalization #1
**Sweeping generalization #2
***Sweeping generalization #3
****More on that shortly
*****LC and I found a flyer on the sidewalk for a Local H show. It reminded me of elementary school, when you set off a helium balloon with your address tied to it and you hope that someone four towns over finds it and writes to you. I thought about whether I should write to Local H to say that someone finally found their balloon.
…I know this not because I watched the game, but because all 37 people who were gathered in the apartment next to ours were hooting and stomping and screaming until 12:45 am this morning. They were cheering like the Earth had won the war against the Aliens. Christ almighty.
Where did she go?I am lazy. If you're bored, go visit my tumblr, updated daily with other people's witticisms and erudition.
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