Toastmasters speech number nine, Persuade with Power, is a speech where you focus on persuading the audience of something or getting them jazzed about some call to action. For my speech, I decided to persuade the audience they could sit around and do nothing, completely clearing their life of social obligations, by being an absolute weirdo which would lead to no more invites.
Picture this! You are a little more awake than you feel at this moment and you are beginning to let your mind skip ahead to the weekend. Your weekend … is free. No plans at all. And you are feeling pretty ambitious.
A friend texts, hike Saturday morning? Heck yes.
You bump into another friend, dinner Friday night? Sounds great!
There’s something you’re on the fence about for Saturday afternoon but you know what … yeah, let’s do it.
And then you get a reminder – don’t forget, you’ve got that thing going on Sunday night.
And now we fast forward to Monday morning and you’ve hit your alarm … where did the weekend go? How was it so go-go-go? This coming weekend, yes, this coming weekend I’ll just wake up and do … nothing. Sweet, glorious nothing.
But … those DANG social graces of yours. You’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘of course I’m getting invited out Brad. It’s my natural charisma. I’ll admit, I have smiled when passing the mirror and swooned. How can I possibly keep from having a full calendar?’
Have no fears. By the end of my speech you will leave here CONFIDENT that you will soon have a free weekend. My tricks will have you failing to impress at a cocktail party, or any number of social gatherings, in no time.
But who am I to give such a fool proof plan on failing to impress? What books have I read to teach me this? What training have I taken? (Fake chuckle) Don’t worry, been there, done that, haven’t been invited back.
For the purposes of this speech I will divide the world into four categories of people. There are the youth, the ‘surly folks’ (I’ll define that later), people you want desperately to impress, and your peers.
Let’s start with the youth.
For this group you may want to do some research. You want to have enough of an awareness of slang to really pain them when you use it. If your slang is outdated, then you’ve accidentally just impressed them because they’ll be so unaware of that slang that they’ll now claim your outdated slang as some cool new thing.
I’ll admit, my slang is already outdated. But I might try something like this:
Hey kids! Woah, look at those jeans, someone is looking rather fleekish. And it looks like somebody here has a few tomatoes on their little plate of snacks! Now that’s what I call YOLO! Because guys, really, you only live once, so eat a well-balanced diet. Ok, now, everyone tell me your favorite subject in school!
Overall, this category of people isn’t difficult, just try really hard to make them think you’re ‘cool’ and you’re guaranteed to fail to impress.
Let’s move on. The ‘surly types.’
These are the people that have a disposition that would make you think life is one giant waiting line at the DMV. They might come across as, at best, stoic, and at worst, openly disgusted.
Really, we could skip this section – the fact that you’re there, at all? You’ve already failed to impress them. But are we the type to merely content ourselves with success? No, I think we need to overwhelm them with a failure to impress.
I’ve got good news, and I’ve got better news. The good news is that this is an EASY group to fail to impress. The better news is that you’re about to learn some magic tricks.
Because you know what this group doesn’t like? Magic.
I want you to picture the person that comes to mind for this unbending, unhappy, lip-practically-curled-in-disgust-at-all-times person in your life – and visualize how they’ll react to the following magic trick.
(Two fingers bouncing back and forth and then lose one behind someone’s ear)
Remember, it’s not important if you get the magic trick exactly right or not, what is important is being a bother.
Next – people you want to impress. You might think failing to impress them could come naturally, but I have a counter example.
After college I was visiting a friend of mine and I met his boyfriend for the first time. We were having dinner and drinks and we’re out at a restaurant. One of my friends was trying to convince me to talk to a girl and I explained my disinterest in my own way, and the boyfriend piped up – ‘ohhhh! You’re BRAD! The non-game game!’
‘What?’ I asked.
‘Like, your absolute lack of game is … your game.’
This was a little insulting, but VERY accurate. But here’s the crazy thing, I’m married. CLEARLY there are people into the non-game game.
For this group, try being painfully aware of your body and every physical movement you do.
Picture two people up here talking, and I’ll show my interest in being a part of their conversation.
(Stand apart and stare – fake laughing sometimes, raising my hand at one point, whispering to myself … etc)
This one is tough. To fail to impress people with just nonverbal communication is an impressive feat, but I have confidence that, with time and practice, all of you can be creepy strangers.
Last, but certainly not least, are your peers.
Your peers might be just as out of the loop about slang as you, and mistakenly think your bad use of slang is ‘cool’, your peers might actually think ‘magic’ tricks are enjoyable, and worst of all – you may end up in an uncomfortable stare-off with a peer before you realize it, and end up leaving the party having failed to not impress a single soul.
This is a difficult group to fail to impress, because if you don’t want to be there, they probably don’t either. They’re going to be forgiving of you being odd because they get it, too. For this group, you’re going to need to be confident, and I want there to be music playing in your head that doesn’t match any music that may happen to be playing in the room.
When all else fails, a good pun will do.
‘What is this, pâté? More like pâté-plus!’ (Self-high five.)
Social obligations are a part of life. Sometimes you’re going to be invited to something, and feel compelled to be there. Or, your ambitious self will make weekend plans only to later regret it.
You want people to think about their upcoming social event to consider you, exchange looks and say, ‘mmm … I don’t know if he’ll mesh with everyone else.’
If you remember nothing else about my speech today, remember I believe in you. I know that you can overcome the odds and truly fail to impress not just one person, but a WHOLE party of people gathered at a restaurant, a wedding, a house, even your own home.
Remember, only YOU can prevent a social life.