You’ve heard of “Writer’s Block” and it describes how a writer gets stuck and doesn’t know what to write next to get back into the flow of the story or information they’re writing about. When a speakers’ mind goes blank and they can’t remember what they were talking about, shouldn’t we call that “Speaker’s Block”? Sometimes fear of this happening is enough to make someone call in sick.
What do you do when you can’t remember what to say next? Here are some points to help you get back on tract and finish, with your nerves and image intact:
- Be Honest
- Ask for Questions
In other posts, I’ve talked about the importance of writing notes and given you suggestions for using them. Even if you feel you don’t need them, I highly recommend having something available to reference. If you are using visual aides (Power Point, flip chart, etc) glancing at them can be enough to get you back on track. Otherwise, it can be a simple as a small card with your 3 key points and conclusion statement on it.
Breathe. Pause. Then look up at the audience and tell them that you just lost track of what you were saying, and ask if anyone can help you out. Could this be a bad idea in some speaking situations? Yes, but you can’t just tell them “that’s all!” and walk off stage. It does happen to everyone and most often you will recover quickly with a little nudge from your audience. The most important thing is to not let it ruin the rest of your presentation. That is under your control. Don’t rush the ending, make derogatory statements, or otherwise condemn yourself. Some speakers have been seen in a more positive light after a “block” moment because their audience saw their ability to remain professional and still deliver a stellar performance. That’s what you’re going for.
Ask for Questions
Besides asking what you were talking about, you could ask if there are any questions about what you’ve covered up to that point. This will not work if you are only in the beginning of your presentation or if there simply are no questions. Also consider the timing – were you planning to take a break and would now be a good time? You can ask that of the group also.
Be professional, be honest, be prepared, be human.
(c) 2012, Peggy Kimmey. Peggy Kimmey is a public speaking coach for business people. She shows clients how to take the “eek” out of public speaking and become more effective communicators.
Contact Peggy at www.kimmeyconsulting.com