What a speaker should do when all hell breaks loose

Murphy’s law states: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Anyone who’s ever given a presentation knows Murphy was an optimist. Don’t panic when stuff happens. Here’s what to do.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

You can prepare, practice and polish your presentation until you are confident that you can deliver it as a consummate professional.

Still, you can’t protect yourself from an unexpected mini-crisis when you step up to present.

So, what do you do when you’re speaking and something beyond your control stops you in your tracks? You keep your composure, ameliorate the situation with humor and refocus on your presentation as quickly as possible.

For example, watch what happens when President Barack Obama is addressing Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit and the presidential seal falls off the lectern.

The president takes a second to ascertain exactly what has happened and to compose himself. Then, with humor in his voice, he says calmly: “That’s all right. All of you know who I am.”

He gets right back to his remarks and the message he plans to deliver that day.

By bringing humor to the situation, he diffuses tension and quickly moves on. Imagine how different the impact would have been had he called someone to the stage to fix it and stood there awkwardly while they fumbled with it and reaffixed it.

What happens if the unexpected glitch isn’t confined to one brief incident? What if the problem persists throughout your presentation?

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.