As a speaker, you can make an ordinary story great.
We may not realize it, but we gain experience every single day, and if we look closely enough at the events of the day, we can find profundity in many situations and turn that into a lesson worthy of a talk.
About twenty years ago, I was standing in the middle of a river, fly-fishing. I love to fish, and there I was, waist deep in this beautiful river, just having a great, relaxing time when it suddenly began to rain.
I walked over to my day camp along the shoreline, where I had set it up under the bridge where the highway crossed over the river.
It was mid-afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything yet, so I fired up the little grill I brought and began to cook my lunch. I had packed a nice, big, juicy steak, a baked potato, and some veggies.
Now, you’re probably wondering why I would bring a steak on a fishing trip. Well, the truth is that I love to fish, but I’m not always successful at it. For this reason, I always bring some food in case I don’t catch any fish.
As I was cooking my lunch on the grill, the smoke from the coals began to rise and fill the air under the bridge with the tantalizing aroma of a steak being cooked. The sizzle of the steak, and the warmth from the fire made for an absolutely delightful experience.
It was pouring rain and a little chilly out, but under that bridge, with my soon-to-be-savored lunch, I was toasty warm and very hungry.
As I was getting set to begin enjoying my lunch, I reached out to take my perfect looking steak from the grill, and…SPLAT…bird poop landed on it! A LOT of bird poop!
I looked up to the rafters under the bridge and there were the culprits, two baby pigeons looking over the rim of their nest as if to make sure they had hit their target, and believe me, they had!
The two of them must have fired off at the same time because what landed on my steak was huge! It looked far too big to be from only one of those two little pigeons. Nevertheless, there it was, right smack in the middle of my big, juicy and perfectly grilled steak!
I looked at my steak and considered my options. As it finally dawned on me that my lunch had been destroyed, my bottom lip began to quiver and I felt like the entire day’s wonderful feeling was taken away from me.
Many years later, I was invited to be the motivational speaker at the graduation ceremony of a local business college. As I was working out what my message to new graduates should be, to help them as they ventured out into the business world, I was somehow reminded of the pigeon story and created a motivational keynote from it, called “Eagles, Steak and Pigeon Poop.” The point of the message was that there are two kinds of people you’ll encounter in your life, the ones who want to poop on your steak (the pigeons), and the ones who want to help you soar (the eagles).
My adventure with the pigeons is a simple event, and most of us would forget about it and draw no value from it, but as a speaker, you must learn to explore every event that occurred to you, and find the profundity in it so you can share your stories in a meaningful way with your audience.
I’ve created keynote speeches from many seemingly mundane events, such as buying a pair of pants, playing a game of darts, and going to a party.
So, what’s the lesson? There is profundity in almost every event that you experience. All you have to do is open your mind and your eyes and find the worthwhile lesson in it.