I don’t have so much experience in being an interesting speaker, but I am a black-belt in making people bored.
In the same way that speaking well is a skill, making people bored is also a skill. Have you thought of how to get away from those pesky neighbours saying “hey”?
Or maybe those colleagues who want to chit-chat, taking away your most productive hours in the morning?
I tell you the worst location I’ve been in where this skill is tremendously useful.
When I’m on a plane.
Let say the flight is ten hours from Stockholm to Singapore, and within the first five minutes of starting the long journey, just after I finish putting my socks on, then my slippers, then tuck myself under a blanket, relaxed my shoulder with a quick massage, about to put on my eyepatch and pop the sleeping pills to settle into a good sleep. The woman sitting next to me touched my shoulder. She grins at me with a hint of restlessness, then she asks “So you’re going to Singapore?”
I said, “Aren’t we all?”
Tell me if you’ve been in these tricky situations before.
To get you out, here are three prescriptions on how to bore others.
My first advice is to talk about yourself. A lot. After all, why hold back. Tell her your origin story. How you were born. Tell her how your mother had read you Wonder Woman and Batman stories when you were still in her tummy, and that your father played Mozart on a loop for the last 3 months of the pregnancy.
Tell her your priorities in life. How much you demand comfort and enjoyment above all else. Explain to her why your bed sheets need to be ironed / everyday otherwise you will have nightmares for weeks.
Tell her how your kids, your biggest pride and joy follow your teachings and double down / on the quest to be spoiled brats. Your daughter is the living embodiment of Kim Kardashian and your son is the next Donald Trump. The world has been so unfair to you, for the sake of justice, your family shouldn’t have to go through hard-life.
The thing is you are better than everyone else. Tell her how people complain all the time about their lives but it’s really nothing in comparison to how much abuse you’ve gone through in the airport. How the baggage checking never understands your plight for speed and that you’re allergic to having your iPad touched by dirty, coarse hands.
For the second advice, you should ensure that you have a smug face. Do everything necessary to appear disengaged. Look at NOT the woman’s face but the ceiling, or the person next to her instead. Talk without acknowledging she ever exists. She started this conversation after all. It wasn’t you who wanted this.
When she appears to want to butt in, don’t give her that pause. Keep talking. Pause is only for people who want to be understood.
You don’t want that.
If you’re telling a story, like when you met the queen, change to a posh accent. “Oh, my dear, the queen has invited the family to the royal high-tea. Indeed, it is so delightful. Now… off we go.”
My final advice is to ignore all feedback. Ignore that little voice in your head that says, “You’re being an ass”.
When the woman gives you a full-blown yawn, just pretend / that she hasn’t slept well last night. She got too excited for the chance / to meet someone like you.
After you’ve followed my advice for 10 minutes, there should be one sign of success. Get ready to get your phone out / and take a picture of what you’re about to achieve. I will give you a certificate as a public recognition. The woman should be, completely asleep.
If she’s still awake, switch to plan B.
Excuse yourself to get a cup of water, secretly pull out the sleeping pills you almost took before. Drop them into the cup. Go back to your seat.
Tell her, “Hey, I thought you must be exhausted after hearing all of that.”
Don’t forget to smile.
This post first appeared as a speech delivered in Toastmasters in October 2017.