Prepare For The Unexpected — Public Speaking

What do you do if your joke bombs?  If your mind goes blank?  If the fire alarm sounds during your speech?  If you suddenly hear the band playing in the next room?  Some situations are ideal for the perfect humorous quip.  Other situations may depend on your saying the right thing to ensure the safety of those in the room.  The key to doing or saying the right thing depends on your being prepared for the unexpected and your ability to be present and able to think on-your-feet. 

For example if your joke bombs, you could borrow a line from Johnny Carson:  “That’s the last time I’ll borrow a joke from Doc.”  He’d sometimes blame the bad joke on his band leader.  Perhaps you could poke fun at a friend in the audience.

If your mind goes blank:  “And now it’s time for a few words on short-term memory loss.”

If the fire alarm sounds:  Be prepared and be calm in order to provide leadership when it’s needed.  Before your talk, always check out the available exits from the meeting room.  Are the back hallways and stairs cleared and unlocked?  I always check.

The band starts playing on the other side of the sliding wall of your meeting room:  “At great expense, we’ve arranged for live music to accompany my talk.”

The key is to think of all the things that could go wrong during your speech and then think of two or three ways you could respond to each situation.  Prepare to be spontaneous.  You’ll be the hero.

As I was listening to Brad Montgomery’s Got Mirth audio program and it reminded me of a great book I hadn’t looked at in a long time:  What to Say When…You’re Dying on the Platform, by Lilly Walters.  Although the book is 12 years old, the information is as timely as if it were written today.  Good news, it was still on my bookshelf (when I moved to Las Vegas I gave away about half my library but I kept Lilly’s book).  And browsing through it reminded me that I was quoted in the book four times.  It’s an item that belongs on YOUR bookshelf.  Brad’s audio program also has a section on this subject.  I recommend you check out both resources.