Top Tips To Handling Common Speech Scares
Updated: Apr 1
Few activities split people as much as public speaking, as whilst many people enjoy it and thrive in that spotlight, there were others for whom giving a speech is one of their worst nightmares. A lot of this is rooted in the fear of failure, and not wanting to mess their speech up in a way that leads to them being booed out of an event venue, or failing to live up to the expectations they have for themselves. However, with planning, preparation and practice, many common challenges or worries about speeches can be easily either prepared for or shrugged off. Here are some challenges every speaker has and ways to work around them. The Technology Doesn’t Work Most modern presentations have a range of visual aids, from the ever-reliable slideshow to films or even more interactive media. However, it is vital to always have a backup plan in case the tech decides not to play along. This has happened to nearly every presenter, including the man who founded Microsoft, makers of the operating system most laptops run on, Bill Gates. Always pack a printed set of notes and a backup plan for your presentation, and be prepared to improvise and shift your presentation to match the lack of visual aids. If something goes wrong mid-speech, move on, perhaps with a little quip like Bill Gates made when his flagship product infamously broke whilst on stage. People Walk Out Never feel disheartened if someone leaves during a presentation, as in nearly every case it has very little to do with you or your presentation. People leave for many different reasons, including answering a call or text and not wanting to disturb you, using the facilities, because they were passing through the venue to reach another exhibit or to attend a meeting, or because they are here for a different speaker or topic. Focus instead on the people who are there and holding on to your every word. Hecklers And Interrupters
For the most part, people will politely listen to you, and only boo if there is a particular problem with an announcement you made, such as what happened at Blizzcon 2018 with the announcement of a game the audience did not want. Far more problematic will be people who interrupt your speech, whether innocuously or maliciously to try and throw you off. In either case, resist the temptation to be confrontational or mock the heckler because that detracts from your speech and gives them what they want. Keep calm and keep talking whilst they try and interrupt, which will often make the interrupter look like the rude person in a situation. If you do want to respond to them, even if just to point out that you will be taking questions at the end, be polite, pleasant and courteous, even if they are not providing to you the same courtesy. Often, it works best when combined with an acknowledgement that you like an active audience but you need to continue with your presentation before you can open the floor up to discussion. Only remove them as a last resort, if they simply will not stop interrupting or they start acting aggressively or inappropriately.