The frightening ghosts and goblins who will be afoot this Halloween are no match for the scary things that can happen [or you imagine can happen] during your presentation. Let's take a look at three common presentation scares and see how to avoid [or at least manage] them.
Scare #1: You get to the front of the room and your mind goes completely blank.
Remedy: Practice your opening over and over until it becomes so internalized that you can call it from memory even when stressed. Put the first couple of things you want to say in bullet form on a note card and have it with you. Remember to breathe. Look out at your audience, make eye contact and smile to reduce your tension.
Scare #2: An audience member challenges your last statement and looks like he wants to argue.
Remedy: Ask him to explain his point-of-view. Make eye contact and listen carefully without trying to formulate an answer. You may find some common ground, however small, that you can move forward with. Involve the rest of the audience by asking them to respond to the challenger before you do; enlist their support by asking, "Does anyone see that differently?"
Scare #3: You are in the middle of your presentation and suddenly the projector emits a squeal and the screen goes blank.
Remedy: Anticipate this possibility during your prep and be ready to deliver your presentation without slides if necessary. If you have technical support, continue a discussion with your audience while the tecnhician tries to fix the problem. If you don't have support, ask your audience to discuss, with the person next to them, a question or scenario or problem you have pre-prepared. Spend only a very few moments trying to trouble shoot the projector problem and if you can't fix it, give it up and put your focus on the audience. Continue your presentation, perhaps altering the format to more of an interactive discussion.
Preparation and anticipation are the best tools you have for avoiding...or managing...the scary things that can happen in a presentation. Then all you have to worry about are tonight's ghosts and goblins.
flickr/Jack o' Lanterns C.C. 2.0