When Things Go Wrong in Your Presentation
“Light travels faster than sound. That’s why certain people appear bright until you hear them speak.”– Albert Einstein
As much time as you prepare for your presentation, there will come a time when your presentation falls flat with the audience, you inadvertently leave out a major point, or you flub an answer to an audience question.
How you react to your presentation mishaps will determine whether you grow as a speaker or not.
The following three tips will help you salvage your present and future presentations.
In his famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “A peaceful mind generates power.”
When you panic during your presentation, you actually retard your ability to think through what is happening and make good decisions.
Your ability to remain calm will actually allow you to make your best decisions on the fly during your presentation.
Remaining calm may or may not be natural to you. However, if you are going to ever be a truly outstanding speaker, you must learn to remain calm in the face of adversity.
Remaining calm during your presentation when things go wrong is certainly necessary to you becoming an outstanding speaker. So is knowing when to talk and when not to talk.
Stop Talking and Collect Your Thoughts
I could be wrong, but my guess is you have a tendency to avoid silence, whether it is a one-on-one conversation or during your presentations. This tendency is responsible for many of the challenges during your presentations.
Sometimes during your presentations, you may find your mouth engaging before your mind has decided what you should say. There are two steps to avoid this.
Step number one is to recognize when this is happening.
Step number two is to train yourself when this happens to stop talking, collect your thoughts, and then speak.
Brian Tracy, the self-development expert, says, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent.” What you do when you are practicing your presentation is what you will do when you actually deliver it.
Remaining calm during your presentation and knowing when to talk and when not to talk certainly can help make you a better speaker.
The last piece of advice is to never announce the problems in your presentation to the audience.
Don’t Announce a Problem
One of the signs of an inexperienced speaker is he or she tells his or her audience what is going wrong in his or her presentation. The vast majority of errors in your presentations go unnoticed by your audience until you tell them. Don’t!
When you, the speaker, announce the errors in your presentation, a number of bad things happen:
You loses credibility with the audience
It lowers your self-confidence
It usually creates more problems further on in your presentation
The way you can combat this is while in the preparation phase you should think of all the things that could go wrong in your presentation. Then think of backup plans for the things that can possibly go wrong. When things do go wrong, implement your backup plans.
It’s as simple as that.
I once attended a National Speakers Association Washington DC Chapter meeting where the speaker’s slides all of a sudden vanished from the screen. Did he remain calm? Yes. He went directly into a small group exercise which allowed him to solve the problem. Did he announce to the audience there was a problem? No. The moral of the story is his backup plan for this problem was developed and implemented.
Experienced speakers know that presentations don’t always go according to plan. They have backup plans and probably back plans to their backup plans so they are rarely surprised by any abnormal circumstance in their presentations. You should do the same.
Your presentations are not perfect. Don’t expect them to be.
Practice remaining calm, knowing when to talk and when not to, and don’t announce the challenges in your presentations will go a long way to improving your speaking!
Call to Action
Practice remaining calm during your practice presentations
Practice stop talking when your mouth is being used when your mind is not engaged first
Practice not telling your audience the problems in your presentation – have somebody in your practice audience click a New Year’s Eve clicker every time you do
“My job is to talk; your job is to listen. If you finish first, please let me know.”– Harry Herschfield ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Introducing a new book from Frank DiBartolomeo!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”
Launched Saturday, January 30, 2021 online in a store near you!
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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