Recently we attended our library's
annual Author's Dinner. Hosted at
the Elks Country Club on the edge
of town, it was sold out. We had a
delightful evening of conviviality,
cocktails, and finally consternation.
You see, after silent bidding and a
prime rib dinner, the featured author
talked for an endless ninety minutes.
While he was actually quite charming,
inspiring, and entertaining, too much
of a good thing is TOO MUCH! We
couldn't wait to get out of there...
Ladies and gentlemen
In my opinion, most of this is due to
a lack of preparation rather than ego.
Many featured speakers simply stand
up and speak. While quite acceptable
at a dinner party, entertaining a group
of three hundred paying guests should
require at least a semblance of prior
preparation. Part of the problem is
that often one's hosts are in awe of
the paid entertainment. Therefore
they're ready to hand over the keys
to your evening. That's usually when
things go terribly wrong...
The golden time frame is about twenty
minutes. After that most lose patience,
focus, or both. In addition, few if any
get anything out of a lengthy lecture.
Audiences simply can't concentrate nor
retain much beyond that span. And yet,
few speakers seem to the discipline or
compassion to keep things "terse and
cherce." Instead they drone on and on
oblivious to the fact that their audience
has been lulled into an alcohol induced
coma. Even worse, when finished, we
politely applaud! Why laud a torturer?
Doesn't anyone realize that a one
sided diatribe must be properly
monitored? It's all about checks
and balances. Someone pays the
speaker with a check and keeps
them within the balance of time
allotted. It's simply messy talent
management when an audience
is pushed to the edge of patience.
Most just sit and dream of bed
rather than making a donation.
Next time use the hook so they'll
pull out the check book!
A proper host also makes sure one
is comfortable. Somehow at these
rubber chicken gigs no one thinks
about where we place our derriere.
Hence we fidget in our seats as we
dodge dangerous majordomos with
sauce boats. As the speaker starts,
my ass is already asleep. If I did
not bag the proper seat, it's highly
probable that I must sit backward
in my gilt torture device while our
"entertainment" drones on. Keep
it short or let me stretch my legs!
A skilled shepherd cares for their
flock. Part of that is getting to the
point quickly. Some abstain from
brevity forcing their parishioners
to snooze each Sunday. While not
a mortal sin, it's certainly not what
any higher being wants. In theory
one should exit worship inspired
and educated rather than arrive at
brunch fully rested. This weekly
exercise in illumination purpose
is to take us all to a better place
not down to the depths of HELL.
When it's over it's over. Sadly most
orators don't figure that out until it's
too late. The worst way to end an
protracted presentation is "question
and answers." I rarely participate but
if I did pose a question it would be
"Don't you ever shut up?" or "Can we
go home now?" I've already got some
answers for our featured guest - Make
it fast, tell a few jokes, and let us see
who you really are. Any lecturer who
does just that is certain to entertain.
And... possibly inspire and educate.