SUCCESS STRATEGIES TO REDUCE THE POSSIBILITY OF A MIND-BLANK
1. Visualize yourself being successful; do not allow negative thoughts to cloud your mind.
2. Structure your presentation so it flows in a logical path and is easy to remember.
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and practice aloud. If there are certain words or sentences you keep stumbling on or forgetting, make changes until you find wording that is easy to recall.
4. Practice to the point that you are not stumbling and your stories come across as spontaneous rather than memorized word for word.
5. Meditate, listen to music or find a quiet place to gather your thoughts.
SUCCESS STRATEGIES IF YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE A MIND-BLANK
6. Pause and mentally revisit your previous words or point to see if you can get back on track. The audience may not even realize that you have had a mind-blank.
7. Acknowledge that you have lost your place. Make eye contact with someone close to you know in the audience and ask him in a joking manner (without expecting him to reply): “I have just lost my train of thought; what was that last memorable point I was making?”
8. Develop a list of lighthearted statements that you could use, and practice using them. Make fun of the situation.
a) “OK, I have just had a complete brain wipeout—my brain is recalibrating.”
b) “Wow, my brain has gone blank. I turned 50 recently—I never imagined my brain would be the first thing to fail me.”
9. Do not dwell on the mind-blank and/or apologize to the audience. You are human and the audience is over it before you know it.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR USING EMERGENCY NOTES
10. The goal should be to minimize the use of notes, as they can distract and diminish the level of eye contact and engagement with the audience.
11. When you use notes at a lectern, you are anchoring yourself and preventing the use of purposeful movement that could enhance your presentation. It can be very distracting when a speaker has to walk back and forth to a lectern or table solely for the purpose of reading notes.
12. Occasionally I carry a note card in my pocket that contains a few bullet points to prompt me should I lose my way in a presentation. I keep the card in a consistent place (such as my right-hand inner jacket pocket) so I am not distracting the audience by having to search for it. I practice retrieving it.
13. It is best to use stiff note cards, not a piece of paper, to list brief sentences or bullet points.
14. Use a large enough font size so a mere glance will put you back on track.
15. Try to keep to one card if possible, but if you need several, number them in case you drop them and need to assemble them in a hurry. Practice using these cards to make sure they contain adequate bullet points and are effective in getting you back on track.
16. Another approach would be to mind-map your presentation on an index card so you have a quick visual. Again, use a large enough font size so a mere glance will put you back on track.
17. To keep the notes less obvious, do not staple them together or print double-sided (so that you do not have to visibly manipulate them).
18. Put a glass of water near your notes so you can walk toward the water (walking gives you time to get your thought pattern back). If the notes are beside the water you can glance at them while you take a sip of water, if you still have not gotten back on track.
19. Some presenters and trainers use handouts or worksheets with “fill in the blanks.” These handouts can help you stay on track (the handout is used as a step-by-step guide).