This morning, during breakfast, I spilled my coffee.
I reached for something at the end of the table and kicked over my cup. The coffee spilled over the table and went straight for my crotch. I was wearing white pants, I’m in a hotel in LA, it is the only pair of pants I have with me, in 30 minutes I have to do a super important presentation.
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My reflexes are pretty good so I managed to stop the coffee from reaching my pants with my handkerchief just in time. I was saved.
Then I started thinking what would’ve happened if I had spilt the coffee on my pants. Well, I would’ve looked ridiculous with a large brown spot in the crotch area, that’s for sure. But how would it have affected my presentation?
They say it is always good to start a presentation off with a joke. That can lead to painful situations with people who don’t have a sense of humor trying to tell a joke which leads nowhere and only makes the presentation worse. But I do get the point. A small joke, a funny anecdote or a personal story releases tension, and makes the rest of your story easier to digest.
So why would it be so awful to look ridiculous when you start? If you can turn your “coffee in the crotch” story into a funny anecdote, one that everybody can relate too, one that will get you sympathy from the audience, then you are not losing face but winning over the audience.
It seems that sometimes when we do business we try to be as impersonal, perfect and inhuman as possible. We make sure we don’t smell, don’t have hairs sticking out and certainly don’t have any coffee spots anywhere. But what is the point? We ARE humans? We DO spill coffee now and then. It is our little imperfections that make us stand out from everybody else, give us our edge, makes us great entrepreneurs.
Next time, just spill that coffee, tell your story, be human.