You are standing in front
of everyone. The introduction went great and your confidence is high. Suddenly you blank out. You look at the audience, trying to find the script in your head. Nothing. Somehow everything you have rehearsed for several days has just disappeared. You smile nervously, your palms are getting sweaty. What do you do?
We have all experienced it
and it’s horrible. But there are ways to handle it. And the way you handle a brain freeze, or temporary blackout, will most certainly determine the success of your presentation. Because in all honesty, the risk of getting a blackout will always be there, no matter how much you rehearse. Before we look at how we can handle these awkward situations, let’s see how we can avoid them.
1. Don’t memorize One of
the worst things you can do is to strictly memorize your presentation. Why? Because if something breaks your structure or you miss a rehearsed sentence, then you are lost. You should learn your presentation, know it by heart. Practice on your presentation structure, but keep your presentation professionally spontaneous by speaking with passion and knowledge. Not with rehearsed words.
The amount of time you
put in rehearsing your presentation will be key for your success. If you know what you will talk about by heart, the risk of having a blackout is minimal. However, be flexible with your initial script and make changes during your rehearsals. For example, if your script says “as a direct result of this strategy, we have become very profitable” and during preparation you say “because of this strategy, our company is now showing great profits”. Then don’t try to learn or memorize your initial script, keep what came naturally to you and you will not take the risk of forgetting that. 2. Rehearse, repeat,rehearse
People tend to forget that
the audience has no idea what you are going to say. You are there to inform the audience and they are there to listen to you. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stay confident, relax your nerves and rock your presentation in your own way. The fact is that no one wants to listen to a perfectly rehearsed presentation, therefore relax and connect with the audience in the same way as you talk to anyone else. They are humans as well. 3. Relax yournerves
Print yourscript as a backup
It could be a clever idea to print your presentation script and keep it next to your computer or on the table/podium in front of you when you are presenting. This can give a comforting feeling to those who are a bit nervous about public speaking. Try not to hold the script in your hands while presenting, as it will be very tempting for you to read directly from it. In case you would get a brain freeze, you take a proper pause and check your script to get back on track, and continue your presentation as if nothing happened. The audience will never notice the 5-10 second pause as long as you play it good and show confidence despite the sudden memory loss.
Theshow must go on The
worse part of a sudden blackout is when the presenter shows their discomfort in the situation. This in turn makes the audience uncomfortable which can ruin the whole presentation. Always remember that the show must go on. Pause. Breathe. And move to another point if you are totally blanked. If you keep your confidence, the audience will show confidence in you. Do this transition smoothly and no one will notice anything.
Laugh it out In some
situations it can also work to laugh at your own imperfection and simply continue. Note that this just works in some situations, since it highly depends on the setting and audience. Turn your imperfection into a humorous thing and you might get the audience’s support since they probably recognize the situation you are in. It is like telling a joke that no one in the audience finds funny. You can turn the awkward situation around by saying something like actually, I thought you all would be laughing now but... This self-criticism strategy can easily turnaround the uncomfortable situation and even give you a better connection with the audience.
Icons used in this presentation
Brain by Christopher Reyes from The Noun Project Repeat by Dimitry Sokolov from The Noun Project Person by Paulo Sá Ferreira from The Noun Project Sadness by Juan Pablo Bravo from The Noun Project Happy by Pham Thi Dieu Linh from The Noun Project PRESENTATION ADVICE EBOOK SERIES NO. 1
Be A brain freeze is
not the end of the world. DAMON NOFAR // @damonify PRESENTATION ADVICE EBOOK SERIES NO. 1