Friday, September 27, 2013

PUBLIC SPEAKING: Handling Your "Oh, @%?!" Moment

     You know it and I know it. It's going to happen.   Chances are we’ve both lived it.  You’ve planned your speech as best as you can … you’re confident going in and you’re ready to deliver.  And then something goes wrong.
           * You lose your place
           * Your audio/visual suddenly quits working
           * Your stumped by a question
           * A few unexpected changes to the script
     It’s happened to me … very recently in fact.  But I won’t tell you where but when I was done, the great news was that nobody noticed. (Hopefully)  Here’s what happened…

Working off a written script … and if front of the biggest live in front of my eyes (not televised) audience I’ve stepped in front of (thousands here, not hundreds) … I got caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd of people and their reaction to what was being said.  I actually shifted from page one to page two and skipped about four key paragraphs.  I realized it mid-sentence of the last paragraph. "Oh, %$&?!"

     Here’s the good news … and how I fixed it mid-stream. The speech had been rehearsed to the point that I knew what was being said… how it flowed and given that I had written the script, I had made notes in Sharpee to the left of my key paragraphs.
Do You Have a "Help" Button?
     The first thing the notes did… was help me realize that I’d jumped ahead.  And the key to making sure people didn’t know…. was to deliver that final paragraph with emphasis … allowing for the audience to clap as they were supposed to …. and more importantly …. allowing me to pull page one back in front of me and find my point of “pick up.”  With my other hand, I used my thumb to keep my place on page two.
    Nobody’s perfect.  We all have those moments where we “get off script.”  The key is to have a comfort within - making sure that you’ve got a plan in case something goes wrong.  “Presentation Coaches” will tell you that you should have a “story” ready to tell, or take questions from the audience as ways of reclaiming your focus during that &%$?! moment.   I agree.  And if giving a speech… aside from taking a pause or a deep breath … I advise two things above all other
Everyone Loses Focus - Then What?
           (1) Take a question …. make the audience a part of the show.  It puts them in a “participation mode” and helps them connect with you and you connect with them. 
          (2) Have an extra note-card with a few bullet points.  They should be stories of experience or things you didn’t have time to put in your speech that you’d love to get out if the moment presented itself.
    Bottom line… our job as presenters is to create “aha moments” for the audience.  But every now and again, we have our own “oh @!?#!” moment … and that’s where it pays to have a game plan going in.
Have a Plan BEFORE Your Audience Arrives
    Thanks for reading along and sharing this blog with others in your circle.  I’d love to get your comments below … and tips you think we could use to be better.  And you can always share, re-tweet and comment by following me on Twitter @KraigKann.

Thought for the Day: When delivering a speech or in front of any audience… remember, you can’t always control chaos or what feels like chaos.  What you can always do … is control your composure when it happens.

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