I recently attended a national convention when one of the speakers had a “senior moment” – she forgot her lines. It was only a five minute speech, and so she had carefully crafted her speech, practiced methodically and came out onto the stage with energy and enthusiasm. She performed her speech, much like she practiced it in the car, in the mirror, or to her friends. Unfortunately, when you are speaking to a thousand people, it just isn’t the same.
Somewhere in there, she got lost. It could happen to all of us. In fact, it probably has. Maybe not to a room of a thousand, but surely, somewhere in your life, you forgot where you were.
So what are your options?
1) You can pause, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and you’ll get back on track. It might not be where you left off….and you might have left out a word, sentence or even paragraph, but you’ll enter back into the speech where it makes sense to you. And the audience will be none the wiser. They don’t know what your speech draft looks like – so they have nothing to compare it to!
2) You can take a deep breath, and subtly refer to your notes – if you have them close by on the lectern, taped to the floor, or have them in your hand. This is okay too as most audiences are very forgiving. They appreciate your effort to speak to them rather than to the paper your speech is written on. And well, most people are thrilled that they don’t have to be up there giving the speech, so they are really quite supportive (most of the time).
This presenter chose option 2. Repeatedly. And got more flustered as she got more lost. And those of us in the audience felt her pain. There was a collective will to have her succeed.
When option 1 or 2 doesn’t work, then just put your notes down and speak from the heart. Find a friendly face in the audience and tell them what you meant to say. You’ll find that a few of those words, sentences, and even paragraphs will find their way back into your speech. In fact, you might even give a more heartfelt presentation than the one you rehearsed!
What do you do when you have a senior moment and forget your lines during an important presentation?