At some point in your life, you must have experienced this unfortunate event. You are halfway through your presentation and things are going amazing. Your speech is fluent, the audience is engaged and you are feeling confident. But, somehow, your mind draws a blank. And your mind starts racing: “Oh no, things are getting bad! What was I about to say?”
If you relate in any way to this situation, you obviously know how awkward and cringe that feeling can be. It is also difficult to regain your rhythm. So the question now beckons; what can you do to avoid this mental mishap? Fortunately for everyone, there are a few tricks you can use and they will follow in the list below.
- Oversimplification isn’t helpful
Regularly, keeping things simple is one first public-speaking strategies you can follow, but there is a limit to simplicity as well. For example, if you are looking for one word or phrase to best explain various ideas you may not select the right one. Consequently, your thoughts get tangled, and your mind has to go through the whole process of unravelling each idea and then try to put them back together in the appropriate order.
Sometimes, all you need to get baffled during a presentation is to forget or cannot find the right word. This usually happens when people are trying to compress 2-3 ideas into one. That is where the mind can no longer cope. When preparing for a presentation it is essential you pinpoint every main idea and afterwards search for explicit language in order to convey it. Oversimplifying can make people struggle during a presentation in which everyone is paying attention to them.
- Never mention how many points you are going to make
This one is one of the most common mistakes out there. People should avoid telling the public how many points they are going to make because once the audience has a number in their head, be assured they will be counting. Being prone to mistakes due to our human nature, you may forget which exact point you were talking about and will have to encounter that awkward silence trying to remember where you left off.
In terms of strategies, people should also avoid using terms and idioms such as: “first of all”, “secondly”, “third” etc. It is recommended you keep things a little bit ambiguous by saying: “One of our strategies”, “Another one of our strategies” and so on and so forth. If you manage to keep out numerical terms from your speech you are helping your mind avoid going blank.
- Keep your rhythm
If you happen to stumble during your speech, do not get stuck trying to make it right. There are speakers out there that once they mispronounce a word their next thought is completely deleted from their “system” due to the simple fact that they thought about their mistake. In order to get passed the “system” failure all you have to do is reconnect with your speech rhythm. Start by breathing. When people breathe, they have the opportunity to get the body back in sync and from that their thoughts will start flowing again.
Drawing a blank is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It happens to absolutely everyone and it doesn’t mean that you are not cut out to be a speaker. A true speaker is the one who knows how to make mistakes less often and how to recover quickly when it happens.
- Technical difficulties
There is nothing worse than sitting around and waiting for a presenter to figure out how to make the projector or clicker works or even worse, listening to a presentation without visual aids because he or she couldn’t make it work. Be prepared to connect to anything. Know beforehand the kind of projector, the size of the screen, and the layout of the room so you can be prepared for anything.
- Disorganised presentation
When people have to make a presentation, most people open up PowerPoint and start making slides. That is a really bad idea. At first, use sticky notes to prepare your presentation’s story. It will save you loads of time and make your presentation more organised. Plus, if you want to create an emotional response in your audience use full-screen pictures. The text should just be used for facts. Animations are fun for the person making the presentation, but they don’t usually add anything valuable to it.
It is as clear as day that mistakes are inevitable; there will be a point in everyone’s career when they will have to make a presentation. Of course, for some people, public speaking is their opportunity to shine, but for others, it may seem like the perfect nightmare. Wherever you think you may have a problem, these tricks will help you develop your presentation skills.
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