What if I Go Blank In The Middle of a Presentation?

Image: victoria dawe (aralbalkan / Flickr)

But what if despite all the practice, fear or stress gets the better of you and you have a moment of blankness, what then?
There are four steps to follow:

  1. Don’t Panic
  2. Retrace your steps
  3. Notecards
  4. Move on to the next section

Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail:

  • Don’t Panic – An obvious but vital move, stay calm, take a deep breath, take another, this will get oxygen into your brain and help you relax and allow your brain to do its work. While this is happening, move on to step 2.
  • Retrace your steps – What have you just said? Go over what you just said in your brain, (not out loud, we still want to pretend we’re confident) maybe going over the words again will remind you of what you were going to say next.. if not then try step 3 or 4.
  • Notecards – This is the emergency situation. Glance down at your notecards and find what you should be saying next – it might not be covered and you could even consider looking at the full speech (but casually, “just to check facts” not desperately, don’t panic) or you take step 4
  • Move on to the next section – When practicing, don’t just practice the whole speech from start to finish, break it down into smaller logical chunks and practice them individually so that even if you forget one part, you won’t forget the whole speech. When you can’t remember what to say next, move on to the next section. No-one will know that you’ve forgotten anything. You’ll find that as you continue through the rest of the speech, you’ll remember the important points you forgot and you can go back to them at an appropriate time in the presentation.