Darren LaCroix, the World Champion of Public Speaking (2001), stood in the O’Connell Center surrounded by 2,000 sets of eyes. The walls were dressed with Accent posters. The surrounding clocks read ‘2:00 pm’ as the first words of his award winning speech “Ouch!” echo from each wall of the venue.
“What do you do when you fall on your face?” Said LaCroix. “Are you more concerned with what other people think, than what you can learn from this?”
He pretends to trip, first landing on his knees, and then shifting his fall to his upper-body. LaCroix lay- nose to the ground still speaking says, “Ouch!”
After standing back up, LaCroix paced the stage, and continued to speak.
“But we never take that first step.” He said.
He was a very powerful speaker, his voice filled the room as he spoke of building up from a debt of $120,000 and his decision to become a comedian. He told the story of his struggle to the audience as if they were his mother, or his closest friend.
“The step after the ouch is the most difficult.” He said “We learn from the ouch.”
As his voice grew with power, it got louder. LaCroix was very passionate in explaining his failures, and using them to his advantage. He encouraged his listeners to do the same.
“If you are willing to fail you can learn anything.” He said
With just another minute or so of speaking, his voice shrunk to almost a whisper. Suspense in the room sat like fog, until he said.
“We forget when we take a risk… and fall on our face. We still make progress.”
LaCroix hit the floor face-first a second time.
“We still make progress,” he said “Fall forward.”