"Our biggest challenge with respect to our clients is trying to instill a little confidence at just the right moment. We've trained senators and generals, teachers and CEOs, and they all have the same issue: No matter how seemingly confident and prepared they think they are, they just fall apart in front of an audience."
Caroline Avinger, the new president of The Buckley School of Public Speaking, has her work cut out for her. Although the Buckley School has helped many conquer their fear of public speaking, participants still have to make the time for this two-and-a-half-day course held in Camden, SC.
"When I started doing this, the average client had the ability to focus for forty-five seconds. Now, thanks to the pace of our digital world, that attention span has dropped to five or six seconds. We're constantly redirecting. Combine that attention span with the natural fear of public speaking, and our job becomes very challenging."
What's a modern CEO to do? Or in this case, prescribe?
"We recommend Extrovertialis."
While Mrs. Avinger was conducting a training seminar at upstart Phergus Pharmaceuticals, Roy Hinckley, a Phergus behavioral chemist, approached Avinger at the cocktail hour. While developing a new drug meant to cure extreme cases of Inordinatio Disorder, Dr. Hinckley had noticed an interesting side effect in his lab rats.
"The smaller rats became more vocal. Just minutes after a small dose of Extrovertialis, they would stand up and get the other rats' attention -- as if they were speaking to an audience. They stood up on their hind legs and squeaked out a little rat diatribe. And damn if the other rats didn't pay attention. When the chemical wore off, however, they retreated to the far corner of the cage."
A few months later, in walks Mrs. Avinger. Phergus had brought in the Buckley School to help their research scientists learn how to command an audience. Eventually it was Dr. Hinckley's turn to take the podium. Hinckley was so nervous, he had to fight off the urge to regurgitate and suddenly it clicked. Where was the compound that made that little white rat so brave?
"We were astounded," says Mrs. Avinger. "His glossophobia disappeared faster than bread and milk on a snowy day in Atlanta."
One thing led to another and six months later, Extrovertialis is on its way to early FDA trials.
"This drug will change the course of public speaking much like Tom Tom made it possible for the navigationally challenged to drive across town. And of course, we carry an exclusive right to its dispensation. It cannot be prescribed by a physician, however. Only a certified Public Speaking Coach can determine if Extrovertialis is right for you."
It's not all wine and roses though. Extrovertialis is not without side effects but that hasn't deterred Phergus from pushing the FDA to certification.
"It has been shown to cause impressions of arrogance, conjunctionitis, mild incontinence, temporary blindness, potentially fatal levels of conceit and an occasional night sweat. And right now its efficacy is dissipating significantly after sixty minutes, adversely affecting the speaker's Q and A session. But we're working on it. Like any cutting-edge pharmaceutical, it's going to have drawbacks. But just like my Tom Tom, imagine the good this is going to do."
At least where the meek are concerned.
This post is satire.