I spend about four hours on the phone everyday with clients and prospects for my speaking business. If I cradle a phone handset between my ear and shoulder, I wind up at the chiropractor every week.

This year I went high-tech with a telephone headset that fits in your ear with a little microphone. So now I look like an employee at McDonald’s drive through. It even has a mute button so when I need to clear my throat I can push it, “hack”, push it again and no one is the wiser.

About three days after I starting using my new toy I went downstairs to see my wife who was in the kitchen working on the dessert chapter of her pun-filled cookbook, “Stand By Your Pan”.

Now I love desserts but as a professional speaker I know that you don’t eat sweets before you speak on the platform. It causes phlegm. But this is the phone; no big deal. After sampling every gooey treat twice, I headed back to the phone.

Most of the people I talk to are presidents, CEO’s, meeting planners of Fortune 500 companies or heads of associations. As I started to talk I realized I’d made a big mistake with the desserts. No fear though, I have my mute button.

Conversations went as follows: “Yes, Bob about the national sales meeting you have coming up” (hit the mute button) Ahemmm, hack, ahhummmm. (Hit button again to release it) “Oh, you already have someone. OK, maybe next year.” Then, “Sally, I wanted to talk to you about putting together a fantastic keynote for your convention” (Hit the mute button) Ahackkk, hurumph, ack, haaack! (Hit release button) “Oh, you have to go. I’ll try you again tomorrow.”

After two days of this, I phoned my wife downstairs in her office. As I was talking, I had to belch so I hit my mute button, burped, then hit the button again. As I did, Diane heard me laughing and asked what was so funny. I said, “Well, I just belched and you couldn’t hear me.”

She said, “Oh, I heard you.”

I said, “You heard me because you’re right downstairs.”

She said, “No, I heard you over the phone!”

Right then I thought, “This would be a good time to read the instructions.”

It seems with this phone you have to hold down the mute button the entire time! For two days, I’d been clearing my throat, belching and hacking in these meeting planners’ ears. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t gotten a job for two days. I’m sure they were thinking, “You know he’s very funny – but what a pig!”

Yes, you need to laugh at yourself to reduce stress.