Many speakers worry about forgetting what they want to say during a presentation. They don’t want to freeze in front of their audience. It can be a very surreal experience, to completely lose your train of thought in the middle of a talk. However, many people don’t realize that there are a few situations that can make it easier for someone to blank out.
1. Replaying a former rehearsal
Some presenters are surprised when they practice a talk perfectly, and then when they do it live, they completely forget what they want to say. This can happen when a speaker is thinking about a former rehearsal as they start their current presentation. If you are trying to replay something you did in the past, your attention won’t be on the current moment. Instead, your brain goes back in time and this disconnect can often trigger a person to forget what they are actively saying. This happens to athletes as well. If they are thinking about a previous time when they shot a basket correctly, or a moment when they kicked a ball really well, they lose focus on what is in front of them and it affects their performance. Therefore, instead of trying to replay a former talk, just trust your rehearsals prepared you for the task at hand. Then focus on the present moment as you share your work with the audience in front of you.
2. Made sense on paper
Another thing that throws presenters off is when they map out their transitions on paper, but they don’t work as well when they are spoken out loud. So if you’ve ever had a moment where you can’t remember the next part of your talk, it’s often because your last thought didn’t make you think of the next one. This happens to actors all the time. If they forget a line, it’s often because they don’t know why they need to share their next line. That’s why I recommend saying your transitions out loud without being able to look at the text. If you know how to begin and end each slide, you’re far more likely to have a consistent flow of ideas and remember your content.
3. Focusing on the words not the story
When presenters try to memorize a presentation, they are focused on remembering text. However, that’s not how we tell stories. When we tell stories, the exact words aren’t important, it’s more about replaying images and events in our head. Instead of trying to memorize words, try to get comfortable with a sequence of events. Going into “storytelling mode” helps people remember their content as they connect with their audience.
So if you’ve frozen during a presentation before, forget any former rehearsals, map out your transitions, and then go into storytelling mode. It will help you focus on the current moment so you can successfully share your work with others.
Author: Bri McWhorter
Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.