Inspired by the facilitation tips and the learning I add when I do the Training From the Back of the Room course, I’m going to add some posts on various speaking tips.
Speaker Challenge: You spend a significant amount of time thinking through the outline, the flow, the slides, and especially the script of what you want to say. You get through the first few minutes, but 15 minutes later…all of a sudden you draw a blank on what you wanted to say or at least can’t remember everything you wanted to say. Yep, happens to everyone at some point. The trick is not pretending you can avoid this (even with amazing prep – it can still happen) but how you handle this moment, is the difference. So let’s dive into some tips that might help!
- If you read the last speaking tip post, this is a good go to for many things: Have them discuss something (in pairs, at the table, etc) regarding the topic. This will give you some time to check your notes and take a breath. Sure it might throw your timing off a bit but so would standing there with a blank expression.
- But maybe you just had them do something, so asking again seems not an option (I caution you on whether that is really true but let’s pretend). Move on to the next thing. I know, I know. But Tricia, that is a key point that needs be shared. One – again I caution on whether that is really true if you forgot. But let’s say it is, you will remember and you can work it in somewhere else fairly naturally. Sometimes I surprise myself with a way better place to share/teach when I have one of these moments and work it in later. It actually worked better than my plan. One of the reasons for this is because when it came back to your memory – often something that is being discussed right then triggered it…so it fits naturally there too. What you don’t want to do is say “Oh, I forgot to mention this earlier”. NO ONE knows…don’t tell them. Just go with it.
- Don’t carry the script with you. I once wrote out every word I wanted to say. When the time came to speak, I got lost and looked ridiculous trying to find my spot in the pages of notes that I had up in the front with me. I vowed right then to find a different way. Now I use a key word approach. So for instance: If I’m speaking on Metrics, I might have a small note that reads:
Metrics – Behavior – Manipulated – Outcome and Output – Transparency
Now clearly, I am going to say more than one word…but now I have something I can quickly glance at to remember the topics/key points. I still have to be able to articulate those in full sentences that make sense. But I don’t get as easily trolled in various topics related to the main concept. Please note: Do not create a slide that says the above. People should not be exposed to your outline.
- Realize that the tendency is to overwhelm people with too much information. This can be driven by speaker insecurities, wanting to share everything related to the topic for success, etc. The reality is speaking (and training for that matter) really need to focus on “the need to know”. Sometimes, forgetting an additional point is the best thing you could.
Remember, the audience wants you to succeed. The trick is learning to trust that you know the information and that you are able to communicate the concepts as they are needed. What technique do you use when you forget something while public speaking?