What Happens When You Forget What You Wanted To Say?

It is possible to survive forgetting your lines
It is possible to survive forgetting your lines
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What’s the worst thing that can happen to you as a speaker? Having the audience get up and leave during your speech would certainly be a bad thing, but since there is very little chance of that actually happening perhaps we should focus on things that are more likely to happen to you. Like completely forgetting your speech as you stand there on the stage. That can happen to anyone at any time. If it happens to you, what should you do?

Why Do We Forget What We Want To Say?

Before we deal with how to work through forgetting what we want to say, perhaps we should first spend a few minutes talking about just exactly how we find ourselves in a situation like this. What can make that speech that we have worked so hard on flee our brains?

One of the reasons that we can forget what we want to say is because we did something differently before we took the stage. We understand the importance of public speaking and we all have a set routine that we like to go through before we start a speech. This can be as simple as telling ourselves that we’ll do great, perhaps its doing some jumping jacks – you get the point. If for some reason we get thrown off of our game and we don’t have a chance to go through what we normally do before taking the stage that can cause us to “not be in the moment” and our brains will go blank.

More often than not we won’t be the first speaker to take the stage. What this means for us is that we’ll have a chance to watch the person who goes on before us. If they are terrible, than that is great news for us – the audience is going to love us! However, if they are very good then all of sudden we are going to find ourselves being filled with self-doubts. We’ll wonder how we are going to stack up to them and we’ll become afraid that the audience is going to be disappointed by our speech. This worry and concern will cause us to lose our concentration and may cause us to not be able to recall what we wanted to say.

Finally, if we decide to make an adjustment to our speech at the last moment in order to better draw in our audience, there is a very good chance that this change of focus is going to throw us off. Trying to work something into our speech that the previous speaker mentioned or include something about the weather or the meal that the audience just ate is a great speaking move, but the effort required to do it may cause you to forget what you were going to say in your speech.

How To Deal With Memory Loss

Let’s face it: we are all going to forget what we want to say at some point in time. When this happens to you, you simply need to know what corrective steps you need to take in order to recover a quickly as you can. The first thing that you are going to have to do is to take control of your body. Undoubtedly your pulse has started to race, your breath has become ragged, and you can feel the panic starting to build up inside of you. You need to put a stop to all of this. It’s actually pretty easy to do: pause, and take a deep breath. After you have been able to take a few deep breaths, you’ll start to feel yourself start to calm down and you can refocus on what you need to do.

Your next step is to take control of your attention. I suspect that when you realized that you could not remember what you were trying to say, your attention suddenly went to yourself and you started to focus on what you were not going to be able to do. You wondered what you were going to do and all sorts of negative thoughts started to run through your mind. You need to stop this and you need to shift your attention to your audience. You want to start to remember why you are standing on that stage in the first place. It will also help if you think about why your audience has shown up to hear you speak.

The last thing that you have to do in order to regain control of what is going on is to shift your mindset. One great way to go about doing this is stop thinking about what you are preparing to do as giving a speech. Instead, start to think about it as having a conversation with your audience. Conversations are a lot less scary than speeches are and this should help you to calm down. By doing this you should be able to relax and get into the flow of what you came there to share with your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the most terrifying things that can happen to a speaker is that we take the stage and then we realize that we won’t be able to share the benefits of public speaking because we have completely forgotten what we want to say. This can be a life changing moment – in a bad way! We need to understand how we got here and what we need to do to get out of this situation.

There are several reasons why we may have forgotten what we wanted to say. One key reason is because we somehow didn’t go through our standard pre-speech routine. Another reason is because we are not the first speaker and we feel that we won’t be able to live up to the expectations that were set by the speaker who went before us. We may also have decided to add something to our speech at the last minute and by doing this we lost our focus and now we can’t remember what our speech was about. The good news is that it can be easy to recover when we find ourselves in this situation. The first thing that we need to do is to take deep breaths. Next we need to refocus our attention. Finally, we need to shift our mindset.

There will be a time in the future when you are standing in front of an audience and you can’t remember what you wanted to say. Hopefully, you will have realized what can cause this to happen and you will have taken steps to prevent it, but we all know that it will still happen sometime. When it does keep in mind what you need to do to deal with the situation. The good news for speakers is that events like this can make us stronger and we can come out of them with the respect and admiration of our audience.

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

Question For You: When you forget what you wanted to say, do you think that you should tell your audience?

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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

I’m pretty sure that we’ve all been there: we’re standing in front of an audience ready to use the importance of public speaking to give a speech that we’ve practiced and then all of sudden, our mind goes blank. There’s nothing there. The speech that we’ve spent so much time practicing has suddenly packed up and left. This has got to be the worst feeling in the world. There has got to be a way to prevent this from happening, or if not that, then dealing with it when it does happen.