Power Presentation Tips 14: Blackouts and Brownouts

Power Presentation Tips 14:

Shining through blackouts and brownouts

One thing you needn't worry about is experiencing a blackout during your presentation. I mean you - not the room lights. A speaker blackout happens when the speaker gets so nervous that he loses consciousness, and falls down. You don't have to worry about this happening to you because if it happens you are finished your presentation. You're done. Someone else has to decide what to do with you and the audience.

I've never seen that happen. So don't worry about a blackout.

However you should be prepared for brownouts. A brownout happens when the speaker forgets what comes next. If you haven't yet experienced a brownout then you are lucky so far. But don't count on luck; instead be prepared to handle a brownout because it will happen. It happens to every speaker and more often than you know because the speaker handled the brownouts so well.

What can you do to handle brownouts?

Pause and smile.
Often this technique alone will relax you enough to remember where you were and what comes next. The bonus is that your smile tells the audience that everything is ok.

Check your notes.
This is why point-form notes on index cards are so handy.

Repeat or rephrase the last thing you said.
This is like rerunning the recording in your brain and helps you refocus your thoughts. The audience believes that you do this for impact. If that doesn't work you could quickly summarize the points you have covered so far.

Ask a rhetorical question.
"What comes next?' You are really asking yourself this question but the audience perceives it as engagement. The bonus of this question is that someone who was paying close attention might shout out the answer for you. You nod and smile and carry on. They might shout out the wrong answer. In either case it buys you time to think and decide what to say next.

These techniques help you to relax, buy time and refocus when you experience a brownout. Most importantly - don't let the audience know of your inner turmoil. You don't need to deliver your presentation exactly as you prepared. You just want to get your message across.


George Torok

PS: tell me how this tip helps you.

PPS: Thanks for your comments and feedback.


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Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.
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