Do you have contingency plans?
Prepare for these 4 possibilities
by Catherine Ahern
Practicing your speech is only one aspect of preparing for your presentation. You should also spend some time readying yourself for the unknown. If you aren’t prepared to handle a surprise or two, you could become flustered in front of your audience. Make a plan for how you will respond to these sorts of surprises:
- Difficult questions. You can’t predict every question that could come up during a Q-and-A session, but you should have a plan for how you’ll respond if you don’t know the answer or if an audience member challenges you. I’ve provided a number of suggested responses on the American Speaker Blog for how to satisfy the audience when you don’t know the answer. In the second situation, don’t allow a hostile audience member to engage you in an argument. Keep your tone calm and respectful. If there’s a point you can agree on, build on that. Otherwise, briefly explain your position, announce that it’s time to move on and call on the next audience member.
- Hecklers. How you respond will depend on the level of heckling. Many hecklers you can simply ignore. Review the blog post “Prepare yourself for unpredictable hecklers” to learn how to maintain your poise, professionalism and control of the audience.
- Technology problems. Know what you will do if any of the technology you plan to use malfunctions. If the computer or projector doesn’t work, do you have an alternative way to display your key images? How will you react if the lights go out or if your microphone fails? Remember that those glitches can’t take away the most important thing your audience expects to receive: your expertise.
- Low audience turnout. Don’t be discouraged if fewer people than expected turn up for your speech. If you are disappointed because of low turnout, you will project negativity, and your audience will pick up on it. View a small audience as an opportunity to give a more intimate, conversational presentation. Tip: If you are unsure how many people will attend your presentation, put out fewer chairs than you think you’ll need. That will force people to sit closer to you and to each other, making the room feel less empty. If more people arrive, you’ll create the impression of a full house and can bring more chairs in.
This multimedia product provides you with techniques for reducing your public-speaking fear. It teaches you how to control your anxiety and overcome the top challenges you face when presenting to a group.
Armed with this advice, you will become a polished and professional presenter, and that will increase your credibility exponentially.
- Recover when you go blank.
- Take precautions to reduce anxiety-induced sweating.
- Respond confidently when audience members point out your mistakes.
- Slow down so people can understand you.
- And much more!
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