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Home > Panic Attack Articles > Article

How To Avoid Public Speaking Disasters

By Martin Ng : Public Speaking


Just when a speaker is two-thirds of the way through comments that are well-prepared and has an audience captivated, something is bound to go wrong.

The lights may go out in a room where he is speaking, there may be an audience member determined to dominate or disrupt his remarks, or his dreams for effectively using audio visual equipment may evolve into a nightmare.

But such scenarios, and a host of others, don’t have to ruin a presentation. That’s because some of these unexpected disasters can be avoided in the first place, while those that are inevitable can be dealt with.

There are two ways your presentation can encounter stormy weather:

1. Unexpected setbacks that may include power failure, disasters, pesky or obnoxious audience members and other problems that a speaker cannot anticipate.
2. Problems with the delivery and use of audio visual equipment
But while each situation is different, they can both be overcome in the way through a combination of planning beforehand, creativity, leadership and a speaker remaining composed.

What are some of the unanticipated and unwelcome scenarios you should have plans for dealing with?

1. Power failures and other technical glitches.
2. Fire alarms that may only be drills, but may also be an indicator of something serious and how leadership is important in these cases.
3. Hecklers who want to embarrass, discredit or irritate a speaker.
4. Audience members who are determined to turn a speaker’s time into a one-on-one conversation with them.
5. Avoiding comments that are insensitive, bigoted, opinionated or may offend audiences.
6. Calming audience members who have been alienated.
7. Clumsy mistakes on their part.
8. Being asked to give a speech with little notice.
9. Microphone problems.

Along with the unexpected, there are also a number of problems a speaker can plan for even before he ever speaks his first word.

Quite simply, you can't assume things about your audience, you need to know. This requires researching their backgrounds in regard to age, understanding of a topic, nationality, religious or political beliefs, etc.

Naturally, you should also do your homework to guarantee your audiences can hear what you're saying. This can be addressed by investigating the acoustics of where you will be speaking, checking the venue’s proximity to areas or events that may be noise, and knowing how to deal with such dilemmas by addressing them prior to their comments and during their remarks.

And then there’s the ordeal of dealing with audio visual equipment. Those calamities can be planned for also, but may lead a speaker to question the wisdom of their use.

Of course, there are several things a speaker has to consider before taking to the stage to assure equipment is available and in working order. Speakers need to remember:

1. It’s always best to bring their own audio visual equipment with them when possible to assure it is available, working, and that they are familiar with its operation.
2. Checking audio visual beforehand is paramount when using that which is provided, both to make sure it has been placed in the room and that everything is working.
3. Communication about using audio visual equipment should be done directly between a speaker and whoever is charged with providing audio visual equipment
4. An area’s size should be considered when using screens, monitors, microphones, etc., along with addressing where they are located in the room.

Like the adage that points out that no one ever plans to fail, but instead fails to plan, the same holds true for public speakers. There are some scenarios that cannot be anticipated, while others can be prepared for.

In both cases, though, you can be ready to successfully address any setbacks.




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