Public speaking. I know it’s something that gives some people chills, makes them sick to their stomach and causes dread to course through their body. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed public speaking. I like standing in front of a crowd, any size, and delivering prepared remarks, unprepared remarks, or off-the-cuff thoughts. I don’t know if my ease is due to my years in high school drama, or a genetic predisposition, but public speaking is fun.
Today I had a presentation at 8:00a.m. Before I got settled at the speaker table at the room’s front I ran to the bathroom, because we were going to be there for two hours between the presentations and time for questions. My section went really well. There were some laughs, lots of head nods, and good eye contact. The other presentations were interesting, and the question and answer sessions provided insight. It was a really good experience.
I finished and hurried out to get on a conference call with a colleague. We sat on the floor, because all the chairs we could see were taken, and shared her Apple earbuds to talk and listen. Then I confidently strode around the exhibit hall learning all about the wide variety of things you find in any conference exhibit hall. Famished, I texted a friend, and we met up for a crappy lunch at the convention center food court. After lunch I wandered trying to find the speaker ready room to complete my last speaker task: making sure they had the right version of my presentation to distribute with the conference materials.
Cue the nightmare.
While I was inspecting a map of the conference facilities a strange man came up to me and softly said, “Your pants are unzipped.”
“Oh, thank you!” I exclaimed and reached down to zip. The zipper didn’t go all the way up, I could feel the gap, but rather than mess around with my crotch in a busy hallway I decided to duck into somewhere private to fix the issue. There was a restroom close by, so I pushed through the door, looked up and saw three men. Crap. I was in the men’s restroom.
My fly forgotten I bolted out and headed for the exit of the convention center doing math in my head. Five hours. I’d had my pants unzipped for five hours. For most of the presentation I was behind a lectern or a table which was skirted, so probably no one saw my underwear. The rest of the time? Ugh.
Whenever someone afraid of public speaking asks me “How do you do it? How do you get up there and talk in front of everyone?” I always reply, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Now, I’ll have a real world example to share with them. Once I got back to my hotel room and appropriately dressed myself I grabbed for my phone and started texting my friends and family. Really the story is hysterical. I hope I never see any of those three bathroom men again, but thank goodness for the one stranger who was brave enough to tell me about my grooming lapse. So…uh…yay public speaking!