About half a head of hair ago at the University of Illinois, ten young men stood on a sidewalk near Lincoln Hall, idly looking up a tree.
Why? Because of a dizzy jaybird? No. Superman? No! Just an ordinary human being dressed in dingy Levis and trimming the tree with a handsaw.
This was not a startling event. But it was unusual enough to cause several college students to stand staring. People look at a man on the street once, maybe. But one with a saw in a tree? Well, trees are usually for the birds.
As one of those students, Junior Jack, watched, he got an idea. He knew this idea was in a strange place, so he should be kind to it.
“What a big idea for a student of public speaking!” thought Jack, as he pulled his beardless chin down from the treetop.
Jack’s idea was temporarily interrupted by the university class bell which he could hear buzzing clearly in Lincoln Hall.
Time for Speech 101. So, like a herd of turtles Junior strolled into the classroom just in time to roll his beady-brown eyes as “last minute” Minnie Curves went wiggle-walking to the apple polishers’ row — front and center.
He hurdled blue jeans to his usual roost in the “gentlemen’s” (C) section, where he sat with a neither here-nor-there facial ex¬pression while the professor lectured on Plato.
Crash! Junior Jack got another idea. How would Plato look with a handsaw in a tree?
A man in a tree. What a simple thing for a student to con¬tinue thinking about. Why would such an insignificant activity attract the undivided attention of so many students who surely should have more important business than just gazing into a tree-top?
“Must be because it’s different,” mused Jack. “It doesn’t happen every day. Maybe I can use that principle when I make my speech in class next week.”
He had already decided to speak about developing a better sense of humor. Could he start that talk by “putting a man in a tree?”
Jack thought. This was hard work for him, although there was nothing really wrong with his mind. It was just a little rusty.
For a while nothing illuminated the boy’s gray matter. Then he thought, why not an illustration? I could start with a story — one that doesn’t happen every day.
This is a long post so I’ve broken it in to two parts – see my next post to see how Jack makes out with his speech. Over my next few posts I intend to provide information on speaking to persuade.