Infographic: How to recover from a public speaking memory lapse

Losing your train of thought during a presentation can be mortifying. Try these tips to regain your composure and get back on track.

Drawing a blank in front of a crowd is the stuff of nightmares.

It happens to even the best public speakers. Fortunately, there are ways to recover, regroup and reclaim your momentum.

Instead of running off the stage and crashing through the nearest window to escape the searing stares of your audience, remember the advice in this infographic from Visme to help you power through temporary bouts of oratory amnesia.

The tips include:

  • Say something … anything. Remaining quiet as you fumble around for your mental keys will cause panic and internal anxiety to rise. Your crowd will grow uncomfortable, too, so don’t let the awkward silence linger. That’s why it’s advisable to keep an emergency public speaking icebreaker in your back pocket. “How about that (local sports team/weather/hot pop culture thing), huh?” Try a bit of banter until you regain your train of thought.
  • Ask the audience a question. “Do we have anybody from Pittsburgh in the house?” “Can anyone name the capital of Mauritania?” “How many llamas would you say there are in the world?” Asking the audience questions keeps your crowd engaged, and it’s also a sly way of buying yourself some time to get back on track.
  • Take a sip of water. This is a classic debate move—for good reason. Grabbing a swig can ease your nerves and provide a few precious seconds to plot your next move.
  • Forget trying to be perfect. We all mess up. No one has a perfect memory or an infallible delivery. As the infographic says: “The audience is on your side. They want you to succeed. They want to learn from you.” Keep that in the back of your mind if you stumble.

To see the rest of Visme‘s helpful tips for recovering from a memory lapse, check out the infographic below.


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