Things to Do When You Go Blank During a Presentation
You worked hard for the presentation. You practised well and tried your best to remember everything that you had to say. However, as you start talking, you go blank. Even though you try to recall the information, it seems like nothing is coming out. If you are in this miserable situation, the first thing you need to do is relax.
Perhaps, your nerves are getting the best of you, and you don’t know what to say next. Try to breathe first, until you feel relaxed, before you start talking again. Once you clear your thoughts, you will gradually recall what you need to say. If it does not work, there are other things you can do.
Focus on one person
Perhaps, the vast crowd makes you feel nervous, and you don’t know what to say. You can focus your attention only on one person and forget everyone else. Look at that person’s reactions to what you are saying. Find someone who seems to have a favourable view of your presence to inspire you to keep moving forward.
Don’t show that you don’t know what to say
Instead of repeating a word several times because you don’t know what to say next, just keep quiet for a few seconds. The people will quickly recognise that you don’t know what to say when you keep talking nonsense. You can also turn around for a while, take a drink of water or something, before you face the people again and start talking.
Go back to your notes
It helps if you have some notes containing the key points you need to say. You don’t need to have a detailed record that has all the words from the start until the end. You can outline the keywords to remind you when you go blank. Even the most experienced speakers rely on prompters since they could also forget what they need to say. It does not hurt to glance at your notes whenever necessary.
Refer to your visual aids
It helps if you use visual aids during your discussion. These visual aids might be for the attendees, but they could also be useful for you. If you forget what to say, you could glance at the slides to remind you of the next point of the discussion. You may also use A4 presentation folders containing the summary of the information you wish to discuss. You can distribute the folders before you start talking, but you also need to keep one for reference.
Ask for help
You might have someone assisting you during your presentation. If you forget what to say, you can ask this person to come over as if you are asking something. However, you are only doing so to ask for a cue on what you need to say next. You can speak with this person in advance to decide what your signal will be when you start getting lost.
You can avoid going blank by practising well, but even with practice, it is still possible to forget what to say.