“Give Me a Moment …” – What Do You Do If Your Mind Goes Blank?
“Can you give me one second to collect my thoughts?” We have seen speakers, both novice and professional speakers, pause, stumble and struggle to reach their next thought while on stage. There are many scenarios where one can lose a train of thought – a slight distraction, an escaping thought, or just a moment of panic. These reasons are more than enough to make you stop in your tracks and panic over your next move.
There is nothing wrong with going ‘blank’ while speaking on stage, especially if you had rehearsed and practised your presentation thoroughly before this. It is almost impossible to guarantee that you will never go ‘blank’ in a presentation from our experience. The challenge is not to eliminate the chance of this happening; the challenge is in recovering from it! We believe that when you are on stage, the goal is to give value to your audience.
Fret not; if your mind has gone blank on stage before, here are three quick tips on how you can continue to provide value to your audience!
Tip #1: Set Yourself Up For Success
Prevention is better than ‘cure’ – your preparation before your presentation can reduce the likelihood of your mind going blank. While there are various reasons for the ‘blankness’ to happen, a lack of preparation may result in you forgetting a word or confusing the overall presentation structure you have. As a start, practise and rehearse your speeches thoroughly to ensure that you internalize your speech or presentation’s core parts.
One aspect to focus on is your script-writing process. While it may be tempting to rely completely on a verbatim script (i.e., word-for-word), breaking your script into digestible, easy-to-remember components could be the secret to staying on track. If it is easy for you to remember, it should be easy for your audience to internalize your speech message. To reduce the jitters on stage, master your script beforehand!
Tip #2: Stay Calm, Take a Deep Breath, and Plan a Route
What can you do if you blank out while on stage? This ranks among the top public speaking fears our learners tend to encounter. For most, this is accompanied by the crippling fear that the audience members will judge us for the painful silence on stage. This may be difficult, but it is good to keep in mind that your audience is more likely to be supportive than disruptive (just think back to all those speeches/presentations you have been in as an audience member!).
More importantly, your audience members may draw their emotions/energy from the speaker on stage. The first step is to keep calm and re-focus your mindset from the fear to the positive value to your audience. Use the following guiding questions to help you along:
What is the topic I am sharing currently?
Is there a question I can ask? (an opinion, thought, experience)
Can I move to another topic/activity first?
The common factor for these questions is the desire to be forward-looking – after taking a deep breath and a few seconds to collect yourself, your next step is to plan a route for your audience. Think about where you want to bring them (or the topic you are sharing) and guide them to the next part calmly. If that does not work, throw an open-ended question to the audience and turn a one-way fiasco into a two-way conversation!
Tip #3: If All Else Fails, Skip Ahead but Promise a Return!
If you still find yourself struggling for the next word/part after all the steps above, there is still a way forward. In such situations, we may find ourselves stuck on trying to squeeze the ‘missing’ part of your speech/presentation. We may end up spending an unnecessary amount of time on stage trying to find the words that are unlikely to come to us at the point.
Instead of grappling with this bleak outcome, move the speech/presentation along while taking note of the part you blanked out on. The idea is to continue giving your audience value instead of having them wait for you to reach your epiphany. You can do so by using an uncontroversial place-holder (e.g., “Let me move to my next segment first, and I will get back to you on Part 2 after the break“). The trick is to offer your audience a commitment by giving them a clear timeline for when they can hear about the part that you missed. This ensures that you have the freedom of space and time to look through your notes and recollect your thoughts.
Push Through Your Presentations!
We know that it can be paralyzing to be on stage and forget the next line or words you want to say. This fear does not immediately mean that your presentation is bound for failure. Instead, careful preparation, a structured thought process, or a dignified escape route can be the recipe for maintaining your poise on stage. The next time you find yourself with a blank mind on stage, try one of the methods above to help you push through!
By The Way…
If you are keen to take your public speaking skills & presentation skills (either business/corporate presentation / kids in-class presentation) to the next level so that you may communicate and deliver speeches with greater flair and charisma, feel free to check out our public speaking/ presentation skills course for adults and public speaking course for children below!
For more about our (weekly group classes) Public Speaking/ Presentation Skills Course for Adults :
If you are looking for a 2-day intensive public speaking/ presentation skills course for adults instead (for our adult learners who can’t do weekends), learn more about our presentation skills training course here: https://www.publicspeakingacademy.com.sg/presentation-skills-training-course-by-world-champion/
If you are looking for Public Speaking/ Presentation Courses for Kids / Children:
If you are a human resources manager/ business owner in your company…
We want to help you bring out the best in your team, organization, and company. Public speaking and communication skills for the workplace, such as persuasion, remain a priority for most corporate training out there. We believe in staying ahead of the curve in sharing the contemporary communication skills to help you and your team remain relevant, competitive and nimble. Through our customized corporate training programmes, your team will benefit from an in-depth, hands-on, and potential-maximising public speaking & presentation skills training programme!
Feel free to reach out to us to curate your own public speaking corporate training programme for your team, company, or organization! Let us help you develop them into highly effective public speakers at work, empowered with effective presentation skills & storytelling skills – them giving speeches with charisma, influence and impact is something you can look forward to!
For effective presentation skills training Singapore & public speaking training for corporates/ employees: https://www.publicspeakingacademy.com.sg/corporate-public-speaking-training-workshop/