How to ‘call an audible’ for your presentation

Veteran speakers (and some first-timers) have learned the hard way that a live talk has inherent perils. Try these tips for making last-minute adjustments to keep from being thrown for a loss.

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What would you do if the presentation content you prepared suddenly became inappropriate or irrelevant minutes before you’re scheduled to speak?

That’s exactly what happened to Brad, a project manager and civil engineer:

“I recently presented at a daylong engineering conference. I prepared and knew the material well enough to present in my sleep. However, as I listened to each of the speakers preceding me, I became increasingly anxious as I realized that 75 percent of my presentation was being covered by others. I knew my material would simply be a repeat and, at best, would be a bore.”

Anyone who presents regularly has probably faced a similar scenario. It can happen for any number of reasons:

Don’t panic.

You simply have to adjust your content at the last minute. In football, “calling an audible” entails switching the play (and yelling its code name to your teammates) because of the defensive alignment.

No matter how much time you spend crafting your content and rehearsing, there might be times when you have to change your game plan at the line of scrimmage.

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