Speaking for myself after running Speak For Yourself® for 20 years, here are my top nine “You Won’t Believe It Happened” speech moments from across the years! You will laugh and you will learn how to regroup and even capitalize on your speech calamities.
Well, Hello Dalai! The venerable Fairmont Royal York in Toronto hosts the convention I’m speaking at. It’s also the place where the Dalai Lama will stay. Nobody shows up for my speech. They’re all on the mezzanine waiting for the Dalai Lama to arrive!
Solution: If your listeners are distracted by fire alarms, famous people, or announcements – you MUST stop and address the distraction. No one is listening to you anyway. I went to the mezzanine too. We all clapped when the Dalai Lama entered.
8. Attendee goes into a diabetic coma during keynote.
Solution: You STOP and address the situation from the lectern. You ask the organizer to get involved and you tell your audience to quietly talk while the attendee is being tended. You do not keep speaking.
7. A/V technician disappears.
Solution: Have a Plan B. Can you talk without your PowerPoint? Can you continue without showing your video? Can you just turn up the lights and talk with your participants? Yes. Yes. Yes. Have a Plan B and bring your notes in hard copy.
6. Computer gets stolen.
Solution: Do not leave your computer unattended, even if you think your session host is babysitting your technology. Learn from my mistakes! Always bring your visuals and notes on a backup thumb drive.
5. Two letters of the organization’s name are transposed.
The name of the organization is Go-Dan Industries. I’m speaking to 100 male sales people. I mix up the “N” and the “D”. “Dan” is now “Nad”. You take it from there.
Solution: Always, always, always pronounce your client’s name and organization’s name correctly. Or find the humor…
4. Computer blows up.
Solution: Same as for #6. In addition – bring a surge protector and plug into that first. What a sinking feeling when your beloved computer smells like smoke, sounds like a baby rattle, and looks black forever more.
3. Wig (during chemo) gets askew during my speech.
Your audience does NOT need to know about your issues! You are there to solve their problems. They’re not there to solve yours.
Solution: I asked the meeting planner ahead of time to alert me if I was having a bad no-hair day moment. Your solution for any health issues: Be prepared.
2. Speech from next door gets piped into my session while being video taped.
Solution: Same as #9 – this counts as a distraction you must address. Try to find the humor. I said, “He’s doing a great job talking about insurance trends. You need to know this too!”
1. Skirt falls down.
I sneeze. Button pops off tight skirt unbeknownst to me. BAD moment!
Solution: You give three speeches every time you open your mouth. The one in your head. The one you give. The perfect one going home in the car. I said to my steering wheel, “You certainly got more than you paid for.” In these situations, find the humor and go on. Also, wear elastic.
Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with organizations on how to communicate to make more money. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog/