Saturday, April 08, 2006

Making My Point, Orally

I am a pretty introverted guy, so people are genuinely surprised when I display my prodigious public speaking ability. There is only one caveat, I have to be prepared. The oral argument that I have to give next week a merger of my strengths and weaknesses.


Two stories here. The first is from high school. I took a speech class, where we had to give umm...speeches (in case that was not obvious). One speech in particular was a "How To...." speech, explaining the process of something. For lack of anything better, I decided to do, "How To Stop A Nose Bleed." I am a nerd, so I used to get bloody noses pretty regularly, but unlike the acne, once I was out of my teenage years, the bloody noses waned (thank you humidifier, Thank you, THAAAANK YOOUUU). Anyway, staying on topic, I used a couple props in my speech, including an oversize cut out of a nose, to demonstrate where to pinch to stop the blood flow. This was all well and good, and got a couple of chuckles, but the final part had everyone rolling in the aisles from laughter. In order to prevent nose bleeds, it is a good idea to rub some vaseline inside the nostril, and to demonstrate this, I had a cut out of a hand, which when applied to the nose, looked like the hand was knuckle deep digging for gold. Pure comedy genius.

It Looked Something Like This:

The second story is from college, where I had to give a speech as though it were an interview for my dream job. My dream job; the goal judge at a hockey game, the guy who sits behind the net, and pushes a button to turn on the red light when he thinks a goal is scored. I got off to a rocky start in this one, my first joke bombed (crickets) and I had a video tape to display my talents (a tape of a goal from an NHL game the previous night), which I was going to pause, but there was no pause button on the VCR (what the fuck is that cheap ass undergrad?). I recovered from these to missteps, and continued. In order to show my excellent button pushing skills, I had a handheld Simon. It was set on the easiest level (maybe four rounds), and once I finished without messing up, I explained that my button pressing skills were great because I was able to beat Simon. That one killed.

The common thread here, preparation. As long as I know what I am going to say, I do fine. (I got extra credit on both for hilarity. I also gave a Best Man Toast and got some women to cry, not from funniness or sadness, but from whatever is that girls cry about when they are not laughing or sad.)


This is another high school story, and unfortunately, I don't think that I have evolved much as a person since then. At the end of the year hockey banquet, I was asked to present the Coach with a gift certificate for Olive Garden or some crappy franchised restaurant. I did so, and then one of the jackals on my team yelled out, "Say a few words about the Coach." This was seconded, thirded, then there was a round of clapping. The room suddenly extended as far as the eye could see, filled with the cheering masses, and the Sahara Desert was somehow transported into my mouth. My shoes were soon overflowing with sweat, and with a little soap I could have washed a bus with the water accumulating on my hands. Yeah, I froze up. I mumbled something like "he was good," and thankfully, another player up there with me, took over.

So I am not that good at the off-the-cuff, spontaneous stuff

The Oral Argument is the collision of these two worlds. I can prepare all I want, know all the arguments and cases; rules, rationales, holdings, and dicta, but I cannot predict every question that will be asked. I know I am going to get some damn question that I had never even considered, fumble through it, "umm..that is, know, umm...It's good," and completely lose all credibility.

So I am not going to be a litigator. Oh well, there are other ways to get rich.

1 comment:

lawschoolrules said...
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