Speaking Disasters Happen, How Can You Be Ready When They Do?

The unexpected could play a role in your next speech
The unexpected could play a role in your next speech
Image Credit: Cris

Let’s spend just a moment thinking about your next speech. You’re going to take the time to think about what you want to say. You’ll then write it down, take the time to practice it, and eventually you’ll take the stage and then you’ll knock it out of the park because you understand the importance of public speaking. However, in that plan, have you accounted for the things that you can’t foresee? I’m talking about disasters. What should you do when they happen?

Get Over It, Speaking Disasters Happen

So just exactly what is a speaking disaster? I define this type of event as being anything that happens during your speech that was unplanned and which could derail your entire speech and cause you to lose the attention of your audience. When a speaking disaster occurs, all of a sudden all eyes are on you. What will you do now that this bad thing has happened. Will you be able to go on?

The answer to this question is yes – but only if you are prepared. It is actually fairly easy to recover from a speaking disaster; however, you’ll only be able to do it if you are both well prepared and if you come with the right attitude. Since we can’t accurately predict just what kind of disaster will befall you when you are giving a speech, we need to remain flexible in order to deal with what may come. Having a low-key approach that allows you to not lose control can help you to deal with whatever happens to come your way.

When a speaking disaster occurs you are facing an event that has interrupted your speech. If you don’t react correctly, then what you are talking about is going to get derailed and nobody, including your audience, wants that to happen. Let’s face it, when a disaster occurs you are going to be feeling a sense of public embarrassment. These are the moments that can make (or break) you as a speaker.

How To Deal With A Speaking Disasters

When a speaking disaster in one of its many different forms hits your next speech, what should you as a speaker do? The very first thing that you are going to want to be sure to do is to try to maintain grace under pressure. You need to understand that ultimately it’s not going to be the situation that your audience is going to remember, but rather how you handled it. You will need to move quickly. What you need to show to your audience is that you are not going to allow the speaking disaster event that has occurred to derail you from providing them with the information that you are here to deliver. Do this well, and your audience will rally behind you.

Use any speaking disaster as an opportunity to better connect with your audience. Often times our natural reaction to a speaking disaster is to become flustered and then just try to wrap things up by rushing through the rest of our speech. Our goal is to to just try and get our speech over and done with. However, don’t let that happen. When something bad happens take the time to respond to what is going on. Your goal is to show your audience that you are on their side and that you are going to work with them to deal with what has happened and together you are going to be able to move on and get to the end of your speech.

When something goes wrong while you are giving a speech, a very natural reaction is for you to search for somebody or something to blame. Don’t do this. Instead, take responsibility for what has happened yourself. Even if deep down inside you don’t feel that it is really your fault, tell everyone that anything that is going on is your responsibility. Do not blame others. If you were to blame others it would end up making you look unprofessional and, unfortunately, really won’t get you off of the hook. In the end, your audience does not care who caused the problem. What they care about is how you went about dealing with it.

What All Of This Means For You

Neither you nor I run the world – yet. What this means for us is that during any presentation that we are making there is always the possibility that something bad could happen. We don’t really have the ability to prevent this from happening, so what we need to do is to make sure that we are ready to deal with whatever life chooses to throw our way so that our audience can experience the benefits of public speaking.

A speaking disaster is any event that occurs during a speech that could derail your speech and cause your audience to lose their focus on you. You need to make sure that you remain flexible so that you can deal with whatever happens. You need to make sure that you have the right attitude to deal with the problem. Make sure that you keep things low-key. When a speaking disaster happens, make sure that you maintain grace under pressure and use it as an opportunity to further connect with your audience. Be sure to take responsibility for what has happened.

We can control a lot of things in our lives. However, speaking disasters will sneak up on us no matter how hard we try to avoid them. Although we can’t predict when they may occur, we can make sure that we’ll be ready when they do show up. Make sure that your next audience sees you exhibit resilience when the chips are down during your presentation and you’ll win them over every time.

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

Question For You: Can you think of a speaking disaster that would cause you to stop your speech and not go on?

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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

Do you feel that the time that you put into preparing a speech is a badge of honor? Do you go around telling everyone about the importance of public speaking and the hours upon hours that you spent crafting your speech, then refining it, and then practicing it over and over again? If this sounds like you, then you may not be pleased to discover that you really don’t have to do all of this. It turns out that a high-quality speech can be put together rather quickly if you only know how to do it…