So, I asked. "What are you doing here?"
"We're here to give you speechgiving tips!" squawked one of them.
"Hey, you speak English!" I replied.
"No, we're just repeating this without being aware of what we're saying," squawked another one. "Pretty bird!"
Great, I mused, Searle's Chinese Room argument, remixed as a cheap animal gag.
"Okay," I challenged, "If you're so clever, what is Winston Churchill's old parrot's name?"
"That's a ruse! Prettybird! Awk!" squawked a third parrot.
How did they do that?
"Fine," I said wearily. "What are your tips?"
Speech-Giving Tips From the Parrots:
1. If you are feeling nervous, try imagining that the audience is a pack of bloodthirsty pirates, teeth and weapons bared, because pirates are cool this year.
2. Avoid lists at all costs.
3. Before giving a speech, get the audience on your side: make cookies for them.
4. Remember the old maxim: Speechmaking is like surfing.
5. Let me know if you figure out why, please.
6. Throw the podium at anyone who coughs. But don't cough on the podium.
7. If the audience is composed of broccoli and rhinoceroses, stop giving your speech. You're not going to get your point across, no matter how well you express yourself.
8. Wrap yourself in a cloak of steam and calligraphy. Your eyes must glow with the deep coals of reason, and your fingertips must dance with the spiders of dream and memory.
9. If you have to improvise a speech, come up with two or three interesting points you'd like to make. Express those in a clear and direct way. Just say them, before you have time to get nervous. Then you're done. Good job.
10. Don't juggle, walk on stilts or stuff ten of yourself into a tiny car. That's a circus, which is different.
11. At the end of your speech, ask if anyone has any questions. Then run away quickly.
12. Your shoes are untied and you have spinach between your teeth.
13. Okay, who's the joker who put in tip number eight?
"And whatever you do," squawked a bright blue parrot, "Don't put this in your LiveJournal!"
Any further advice?