Dead Air: A Public Speaker’s Worst Nightmare

Picture this: you’re halfway through your customized PowerPoint presentation and you’re increasingly confident because your audience is responding positively. Suddenly, however, your mind goes blank and everything you’re supposed to say suddenly disappears.

And then you turn to your audience and think to yourself, “What was I going to say again?”

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Everyone has been in this situation at some point in their lives—while retelling a story to a friend or while discussing something in front of the class—and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, it can be hard to shake off, but it is preventable.

How do you prevent going blank in the first place?

 

There are speakers that wish to finish their presentations in half the time they allotted, but that doesn’t mean that you should skim through your topic to achieve that.

While it’s important that you keep the language of your discussion at a level where everyone in the audience will understand it, it is possible to go too far—the more you try to simplify words and phrases, you may find yourself in a web of thoughts that is difficult to tie back together.

 

When you memorize your pitch, the way you relay your message to the audience sounds more mechanical, detached, as compared to knowing it like the back of your hand, taking every key point to heart.

The moment anxiety kicks in, everything that you’ve memorized will disappear. It’s easy to lose your focus during a presentation—saying the wrong word or turning to the wrong slide can immediately distract you.

When you internalize your presentation, there’s still a possibility of losing your footing, but you’ll get back on track just as quick.

Just remember to rehearse as much as you can so it results in delivering your pitch conversationally. This makes it easier for your audience to pick up on the emotions that you’re coaxing from them.

 

Mispronouncing a word or stuttering can throw you off your game, but these should be the least of your worries. Correct yourself and move along. There’s no use dwelling on it and stopping halfway because you’re embarrassed—it’s normal.

 

Have you ever stopped in the middle of a presentation because you felt like it was all for naught? If so, you might be experiencing typical feelings of the impostor syndrome, especially if it’s your first time pitching in front of a large audience, as this is more likely to happen to those embarking on a new endeavor.

First recognized in the 1970s by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, and Suzanne Imes, PhD, the impostor phenomenon is a specific form of intellectual self-doubt, common among overachievers who are unable to internalize their success.

Talk to your mentors, recognize your expertise, and remember what you do well—you’ll be fine.

Many factors contribute to going blank during presentations—lack of confidence, over-preparation—and these may affect your effectiveness as a speaker.

Before the big day, take this moment to go over your pitch and leave the deck creation to business PowerPoint agencies to maximize your time. Breathe, internalize, and keep a level head always.

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References:

Weir, Kirsten. “Feel Like a Fraud?” American Psychological Association. November 2013. www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx

Grant, Anett. “Here’s How to Avoid Drawing a Blank in the Middle of Your Presentation.” Fast Company. October 8, 2017. www.fastcompany.com/40478112/heres-how-to-avoid-drawing-a-blank-in-the-middle-of-your-presentation

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