It’s The End Of The World – What’s A Public Speaker To Do?

by drjim on June 19, 2012

Sometimes bad things that a speaker can't control do happen

Sometimes bad things that a speaker can’t control do happen

Perhaps saying that it’s “the end of the world” is a bit overly dramatic; however, if you are giving a speech and things start to go wrong for you it sure can seem like it’s the end of the world. We live in a complex world in which it is entirely possible that things can and will go wrong. We don’t have the ability to prevent things from going wrong, but we do have control over how we react when it happens. Perhaps we should talk about some presentation tips for what you need to do in order to be prepared for some all too common events.

The Death Of A Laptop – Yours!

Welcome to the 21st Century where a laptop is a part of almost every presentation. This can be a great tool to use – until it stops working. How many presentations have you attended where the presenter spent the first 15 minutes struggling to get his or her laptop to work correctly? No matter how good your audience’s listening skills are, it won’t be of any use to them if you don’t start talking!

The next time that you give a speech, you need to anticipate having laptop problems. The most important thing that you can do is to mentally decide how long you are going to be willing to struggle with your laptop. My rule of thumb is 10 minutes – if I haven’t been able to fix the problem by then, I abandon the laptop and move on.

Moving on means that you’d better have a back-up plan that you can use. This means that you need to know what your main points are so that you’ll be able to use a white board or some other writing surface to guide your audience through your speech.

Too Much To Say & Not Enough Time To Say It In

This happens to every speaker – we get caught up in the importance of public speaking and you discover that your speaking time is up and yet you still have more to say. There are a lot of different reasons for this happening, but poor planning on your part is the #1 reason.

You can prevent this from being a problem if you take the time to make sure that you’ll have enough time when you create your speech. Don’t plan on ending exactly on time – that never happens. Instead, plan on leaving 10% – 20% of your allotted time at the end for Q&A. This way if you do end up running over, you’ll just have less time for Q&A.

The Case Of The Missing Slides

If there is one event that causes me to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, this is it. You show up to deliver a speech and then you look around and realize that somehow you forgot to bring your slides along.

It’s very hard to recover from this type of problem. Your best bet is to make sure that it never happens. Do this by making sure that you have multiple copies of your presentation at hand. Put a copy on your laptop, put a copy on a flash drive, and email a copy to your Gmail / Hotmail / web-based email. If everything else fails, somebody in the room will be able to download a copy for you.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers, we need to understand that we are going to be giving our speeches in a world that we do not fully control. What this means is that there is a good chance that things will happen to us during a speech that are out of our control. One of the benefits of public speaking is that we can learn how to deal with them.

Talking to modern audiences comes with its own set of problems. It is always possible that the laptop that we had been counting on using during our presentation dies on us at the wrong time. We may have a lot left to say when we discover that we’ve run out of time. Even worse, we may show up to give a speech and discover that we forgot to bring our slide deck along with us.

We might run the world some day and won’t have to worry about real-world problems like the ones that we’ve talked about. However, until that day comes, use the techniques that I’ve shared with you to prevent events from sabotaging your speech and instead go on to deliver a speech that everyone will remember for all the right reasons.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If your laptop dies on you, do you think that you should try to talk to the audience while you are trying to fix it or should you keep quiet?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you ask me, I think that all too often we speakers tell our audiences too much. We get all caught up in importance of public speaking and we focus on what we want to say to our audience and we forget to spend enough time working out how we want to communicate our information. Good news for you, I’m going to tell you about the revelation technique and you can use it in your next presentation to make your message that much more powerful…

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