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When Your Mind Goes Blank

August 18, 2011

At a recent Talk for Change meeting I gave my 6th speech. The objective of the speech was to research your topic. I spent weeks combing facts and statistics about early childhood education, something I’m very passionate about.

 My big moment finally came and I started off the speech with a bang. I really had the audience going, but then my mind went blank. The rest of the speech was an endless blur of me rambling and trying to get through my important points. It was so disappointing because I prepared for the speech, but I didn’t get my full message across.

 Once I finished, my fellow Toastmasters rallied around me with support and encouragement. In fact, they even inspired me to try the speech again.  For you see great Toastmasters know that, “Winners Never Quit, and Quitters Never Win.” ~ Vince Lombardi

Should you ever find yourself in my predicament, be prepared with the following tips on What to Do When Your Mind Goes Blank:

  1. Back up.

Summarize the point you just finished making. Often, repeating your previous point, like retracing your steps before taking a leap, will give you momentum to carry you forward.

  1. Check your notes.

Even if you speak without a podium, keep your notes — at least an outline — nearby just in case something like this happens.

  1. Ask your audience for help.

Say, “I got so caught up in what I was saying that I lost my place. Where was I?” Someone will tell you. (This is especially true if earlier in your introduction you enumerated your main points.) Making your audience part of your presentation is a good thing.

  1. Say something.

Say anything. The longer you remain silent, grasping for exactly the right word, the more your anxiety (and the audience’s) will grow. Try to recall anything relevant to your speech, the audience, or the occasion, and say it. Once you begin talking, your memory will mostly likely kick into gear.  

  1. Check your attitude. 

Perfectionism is the undoing of many speakers. It’s based on the illusion that if we work hard enough, we can avoid making mistakes, losing control, or looking foolish. Don’t try to give a flawless presentation; focus instead on serving your audience to the best of your ability.

  1. Remember that your audience wants you to succeed.

(Your mind is much more likely, by the way, to go blank, if you’re trying to memorize your speech. Don’t focus on saying exactly the advance card cash credit fee no right words. Focus, instead, on communicating the concepts you have in mind.)

©Chris Witt, all rights reserved. www.wittcom.com

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