Public speaking was never Jack’s forté. He was a bean counter. A number cruncher. Jack enjoyed the thrill of unpacking raw data. The thought of speaking at a colleague’s retirement party was akin to asking him to performing brain surgery while blindfolded.
All week long he fussed and bothered over what he would say. He watched hours of videos of famous speeches for inspiration. Nothing helped.
Encouragement from coworkers only intensified his anxiety.
“We know you’ll come up with something amazing,” they said.
“Say what’s on your heart,” they said.
Nothing ever came up and his heart was never his best asset.
The evening of the speech came far too soon. Sweat beaded across his brow all through the dinner. Soon after the program started, the Master of Ceremonies called his name. Jack made his way to the podium. He could hear his heart pound in his chest.
The murmur of the crowd silenced. All eyes fixed on Jack. He pulled out cards containing his notes, but in the moment, they resembled a foreign language. He swallowed hard.
After a few tense seconds, he summoned the words, “May you never have to speak to anyone stranger than you.”
The crowd erupted with laughter. The man of the hour stood in applause. He approached Jack and embraced him in a hug.
“Jack,” he whispered, “you always know the right thing to say.”