"Oh no — what was I supposed to say?!?!" When you completely forget what comes next in front of a waiting crowd, the stage can feel like it's turning to quicksand under your feet. Sometimes, even with notes, we "go up". (That's what actors call it when they forget their lines on stage.) Today's presentation skills training "What If..." gives you some tricks to keep your confidence and composure if your mind totally goes blank during a presentation.
What if... I forget what I'm supposed to say?
Answer from Kerri: Sometimes the thought train leaves the station without hope of return. It happens to the best of us. When you totally forget what you’re supposed to say, the worst thing you can do is highlight the moment by saying, “Oh! Umm, I forgot what I was going to say… what was I going to say? Ummm…” When you feel the words go away, simply pause your speech and give yourself a moment to try and collect your thoughts. You’ll maintain your credibility far more than if you start to ramble to fill the time. If you’re presenting with notes or an outline like the Ovation Blueprint (you can get your blueprint copy in Presentation Skills for Managers!), give yourself some time to refer to it, in the hopes that it will jog your memory.
If there’s no way your thought is coming back to you, try as best as you can to move on to your next piece of information. This act alone may jog your memory and help you get back on track. If it does, revisit the missing point without saying anything along the lines of “Oh! THAT’S what I was going to say!” Segue back to the missing information with something like, “I want to revisit a point…” or “Let me tell you about this piece of information…” An old acting secret – the audience doesn’t have a script in front of them. Maintain your composure, and the audience will think it’s all part of the show.
Has your mind ever gone blank during a presentation? Let us know in the comments!
And if you haven't already, now is a great time to: