Preparing To Deal With A Speaking Disaster

Disasters do happen, will you be ready when they strike?
Disasters do happen, will you be ready when they strike?
Image Credit: Cris

I think that we’d all like to think that every time that we take the stage in order to give a speech, everything is going to go perfectly. I mean, we’ve created a speech, we’ve practiced it, and we feel that our audience really wants to hear it, right? Well, that might all be true, but because life is what it is, things can happen as we give a speech that we would all agree turns the speech into a disaster. Since there is really nothing that we can do to prevent something like this from happening, the question that we need to be able to answer is what should we do if disaster strikes?

Dealing With Speaking Disasters

Hey look, a speaking disaster can happen to anyone. We need to understand that it isn’t easy to recover from a speaking disaster; however, if you are well-prepared and have the right attitude, you can turn speaking disasters into opportunities. To make this happen there’s a certain flexibility or low-key approach that can help you weather the storms that suddenly pop up at the most inopportune times. This kind of attitude can make you appear relaxed and in control, even though you might feel you’re about to come apart at the seams. You may find yourself facing an interruption that threats to derail a serious moment in your speech, yet you can turn such a moment around to your benefit. If you complain about what has just happened to you, you will risk losing your audience and your credibility.

Planning For Things To Go Wrong

Anyone who has ever been caught in public with piece of spinach between her teeth or a price tag hanging from a piece of his clothing can identify with public embarrassment. We need to realize that moments like that can either make or break you as a speaker. So, how can we turn a speaking “oops” into an opportunity? What we need to do is to make sure that we have a plan.

First off, you are going to want to make sure that you can maintain grace under pressure. It’s really not the embarrassing situation that matters. Rather it’s how you deal with them. Understand that you must deal with it quickly. If you can show your audience that you are not going to let the interruption derail you from your speaking purpose, then they will take your cue and become even better listeners.

Next, you’ll want to find a way to connect with your audience. We should always be looking for a way to connect with our audience. It can be easy to get flustered and rush through your planned speech just to get it over with when something bad happens. However, when the unplanned event happens, you need to take time to respond to it in front of your audience. By doing so you will be showing your audience that you are one of them and are concerned with their needs.

Just like being a Boy Scout, you need to make sure that you are always prepared. If as a part of your speech you need certain table arrangements, back-up microphones or other audio-visual equipment, make sure that you let the meeting planner know well ahead of time. Just to be really sure that you have everything under control, make a last-minute follow-up call to ensure your requests have been met by the planner.

Finally, you need to be willing to bite the bullet. Look, when things go wrong in a presentation – and if you make enough presentations, let us agree that something surely will – you should not blame others. Instead, when something happen you need to take the responsibility yourself. I understand that a trouble spot may not be your fault, and it can easily be traced to incompetence by someone else; however, you need to take the blame yourself. If you blame others then it makes you look unprofessional and really doesn’t get you off the hook. Audiences will remember the speaker who had them enthralled when the power suddenly went out. In the end, they don’t really care who caused the outage.

What All Of This Means For You

As speakers, we all understand that the world that we live in is not a perfect world. Things do go wrong. Even worse – things can go wrong while we are giving a speech. If this happens, then it’s going to be up to us to deal with the situation as it happens. In the end, it’s our speech and so we are the ones who will need to take steps to prevent our speech from turning into a disaster.

Since we can’t prevent bad things from happening, what we need to do is to make sure that we come prepared to our next speech. We have to understand that bad things can happen and we need to have a way to deal with them when they do. We have to make sure that we’ll be able to maintain grace under pressure. Since we’re the speaker, we need to be able to connect with our audience. Knowing that bad things can happen means that we need to always be prepared to deal with them. If something does happen, we need to be willing to take responsibility for it and then move on.

The way you handle your next speaking engagement is a direct reflection on you and the organization that you are representing. By following the tips that we have just discussed, you now have the ability too turn potential disasters into speaking opportunities, and thereby make sure that you receive rave reviews for your next speech.

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

Question For You: If something bad happens during a speech, do you think that you should stop or should you keep on speaking?

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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 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

So what goes through you mind when you are asked to give a speech? If you are like most of us, a lot of things do. You think about the topic that you’ve been asked to talk about, then you think about all of the things that are related to that topic. Then you think about your audience and what you think that they really want to hear. If you are not careful, when you sit down to create your speech, all of these different thoughts will still be racing through your head. If you allow yourself to write your speech when you are thinking this way, your speech is going to turn out to be a confusing mess. You need to learn how to think clearly so that you’ll be able to speak clearly.