Illustration of a girl performs Indian street circus by walking over a rope using a wheel

Tragic stories pop up regularly about people dying from taking selfies. They were usually too close to a cliff or waterfall without a safety net.

Speaking can also feel like standing on the edge of a cliff. Rather than memorize or read a presentation, we encourage clients to speak off an outline, but always with safety nets, so they don’t suffer injuries.

If you get stuck and forget where you are, use an “I” statement. “I was surprised when…” or any observation of yours. If you use a list or divide your talk into sections, make it three. Then use an acronym, like “CPR” for Challenges, Programs and Results. Rehearse your opening and closing until you have them down cold; it will calm your nerves. As always, have only one intention as your North Star. It will keep you from getting off track.

Rehearse out loud to make your presentation familiar and real. Walk through it casually and conversationally. If possible, deliver it to a colleague with nothing on the line. Do a “stumble-through” the day before-- marking your talk by going through your outline with low energy. Don’t rehearse ‘full out’ until you deliver it.

If you forget a line when you present, keep going. (You can usually put it in somewhere else.) Or, you can recap up to that point and it will come to you. A Hail Mary is to look thoughtfully at ceiling tiles, take a few steps and voila! You have given yourself time to recover. Keep these valuable safety nets handy. And avoid selfies.

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