3 takeaways from a wedding speech gone awry

When a public address goes awry, learn from it. That way you’ll be prepared to nail that next speaking opportunity.

Public humiliation is never fun, but it almost always provides learning opportunities.

One embarrassing incident—involving an extemporaneous wedding speech gone horribly wrong—completely altered my approach to public speaking and taught me several valuable lessons.

On a work trip to a sprawling slum outside Vijayawada, India, my colleagues and I stumbled upon a wedding in progress. We walked in during the ceremony and were ushered to seats in the front.

I felt awful for barging into the ceremony, drenched in sweat and miserably fatigued. I was sporting a very formal all-white kurta-pajama ensemble that my mischievous colleagues had encouraged me to wear for their amusement. Everyone else was wearing Western clothes or local casual gear.

It was deep into the afternoon and well above 100 degrees. I was badly dehydrated. The ceremony was in Telugu (that’s a language, not a locale), so I had little hope of following along. What seemed like hours passed.

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