Traps and Tips
If your idea of being an effective public speaker is to never stumble over a passage or slur your words, forget it. Even the best public speakers are prone to these types of miscues. As with so many other things in life, it's not what happens that's key, but how you handle what happens. If adroitly or nonchalantly corrected, a minor miscue is quickly forgotten by the audience.
What happens when you blank out and lose your place in front of the audience? Elsewhere, I discuss how Tony Alessandra simply says to the audience in a loud, comical voice, “Now where was I?” Invariably, someone in the audience tells him.
For many aspiring public speakers, the fear of “blanking out” is a great inhibitor that serves to diminish the effectiveness of their presentations. Such speakers can be seen with outlines, notes, PowerPoint slides, and all manner of props to remind them each and every step of the way exactly where they need to be and what they need to be saying. While this practice may ensure that they do not lose their places, it may not be worth it. Being overly protective and overly cautious inhibits natural energies, restricts the presentation flow, diminishes potentially effective gestures, and otherwise makes your presentation less than a pleasure to witness.