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Free drinks in hand,
they sit agog, waiting
to be encouraged, inspired.

He struts the stage,
a skimming smile
that doesn’t reach his eyes,

shirt sleeves folded not rolled,
soapy and smooth,
boss with gloss.

“Look! Listen!” he barks,
staring down at tables, not faces,
forehead frowned in feigned sincerity.

Hackles rise,
expectations plummet.
They switch to decode mode.

“…flexibility... adaptability…
is key…”

They can see
through him.

Words wash over them
with a whiff
of déjà moo.

Draining the dregs
of their meagre bribes,
they leave the hall

in dribs and drabs,
slow hand clapping.