Adding a Plan B (PART TWO)
It is almost inevitable that at some point you will encounter unexpected problems in giving presentations. How you handle these problems, will determine whether your presentation is a success or not.
Some people get very flustered when something goes wrong. They may become irritated or angry. The audience picks up on this emotion and starts to form a negative impression of the speaker. Skillful speakers treat unexpected problems humorously. If their projector doesn’t work or they trip over a cord, they make a joke out of it.
This puts everyone at ease and starts to build a rapport with the audience. This is one element which separates comfortable public speakers from speakers who are less professional.
The importance of having a Plan B is recognized by everyone who has a Plan A. The thing that many people forget about plans is that they are not always going to be carried out in the conditions for which they were planned.
Things can go wrong without notice. Even if you have planned out every seemingly foreseeable eventuality there is always the danger that, for example, the power will go off in the middle of the presentation. How you react to these problems is almost as important as the quality of your speech.
Good public speakers will always be ready for the possibility of unforeseen problems. This does not mean that, should you spill something over your notes or have a momentary lapse of memory, you should launch into a stand-up comedy routine. It is much better to simply go into the speech you have planned with the awareness that you may need to “fill space”. One way in which people do this is to make light of the problem and – if you can think of a way to do so – make the unexpected problem into part of your Plan B.
For example – and this is a very specific example – if the power should cut out during a speech on the importance of energy efficiency, you can turn this into a jumping off point by saying “…and this is a good example of the importance of what I am talking about. Thank you very much for that illustration”. Of course, sometimes the fates will throw problems at you that are not so easily turned into a joke, but thinking on your feet will win you points.
Often, it is enough simply to know that you may encounter such problems and to have an attitude those things are in the lap of the gods. Having the confidence to turn them into something that can drive a presentation forward is the mark of a good speaker.