As a young professional, communications skills are vital to your success; your competencies in presenting your ideas to an audience are key to standing out from the crowd.
The challenge is that speeches and presentations don’t always go as intended and it is essential that you understand how to deal with the situation when it happens (and it will).
But not to worry. It’s counterintuitive, but your best speech can be given when you screw up.
I’ve had all the nightmares happen to me. Slides come up out of order, I suddenly forget the point I’m trying to make in the middle of a sentence, power is interrupted and slides disappear and the room goes dark, my iPhone goes off (I know, my problem) while I am speaking and a heckler chooses to be a co-speaker and tries to dominate the airspace.
These unpredictable events are opportunities; time to pump it up not shut down.
The psychology is quite simple.
People like the unpolished, un-slick and informal.
They like real.
And real is having the unexpected happen in a presentation.
The key is what you do when it happens.
And if you recover well that’s what the audience will remember and talk about; the screwup contributes to the experience they had with you.
They forget that the microphone went out and remember what you said and did when you were silenced by technology.
Don’t deny the event.
It happened and everyone knows it.
Use it as a catalyst to send you in an unplanned direction.
Use it as a force to do something different.
Use it as an opportunity which may not otherwise have presented itself to surprise people and blow them away with your ability to go with the flow.
Acknowledge the heckler, thank them for the interruption (yes thank them!) and use their point to strengthen your own. Never put them down; honour their right to disagree with you.
When you forget your point, make a joke about yourself – “An unexpected senior moment highly unusual at the age of 30”. People love it when you make yourself the butt of a joke.
Screwup success = stay on form (keep your momentum going) + SURPRISE ’em with something they don’t expect.
Think about what you will do before it happens.
Be prepared for “Murphy”