How to avoid a Rick Perry brain freeze

It can happen to the best of us. What, if anything, can you do to prevent your memory from failing you?

As a native Texan, I’m sad and embarrassed for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his debate performance last week.

We’ve all seen the gaffe by now.

The cringe-worthy moment highlights the importance of preparation before you give a speech or interview.

Here are three takeaways from Perry’s temporary amnesia:

1. Good notes. Don’t rely on your memory because your nerves will work against you. Prepare yourself with good notes so you can convert nervous energy into a positive, confident message.

Your notes will easily remind you of important points. Only include key words—not sentences—that will start your mind going down the right path.

2. Practice, practice, practice. Practicing helps the words roll off your tongue so you can use your cadence, delivery, tone, gestures and facial expressions to your advantage.

Rehearse your speech or sound bites at least three times before delivering the information. We all freeze up from time to time, and that’s normal. But many people tend to forget what they want to say because they have not practiced.

3. Visualize. Take at least five minutes alone sometime before your presentation to visualize yourself speaking and listening. Imagining how you will look and feel when you hear what others have to say is just as important as seeing yourself speak. People will judge you when you’re talking or listening, so visualize both.

If you find yourself in the middle of a brain freeze while you’re speaking, then by all means show a sense of humor like Gov. Perry. A brain freeze with humor at least provides a positive spin on a bad situation, but a brain freeze with obvious panic shows a lack of confidence and desire to quit. Always move forward in your presentations, never retreat.

What else can help speakers prepare?

Josh Gordesky is president of Game Plan Communications. A version of this post ran on his blog, I Hate Long Emails.

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