Picture the scene: you’ve been practising a presentation for weeks, and the big day has finally arrived.
You’re on stage, your presentation is flowing, and the audience is hanging onto your every word. But then, the worst happens.
Your mind goes blank. Every point you wanted to make has suddenly disappeared – and people are waiting to hear what you are going to say next.
It’s every speaker’s nightmare. But there are ways to overcome the freeze, find your place, and continue delivering an engaging and inspiring presentation.
Here are a 5 things you can do to overcome a mind blank when public speaking.
The easiest thing you can do when you have a mind blank is stop talking!
Briefly pausing gives you the time you need to get back on track. Rather than panic, understand that it is okay to take some time to remember what you need to say next.
Silence might make you feel uncomfortable, but desperately trying to fill it when you aren’t sure what to say will make you feel much worse.
Plus - despite what you might think - silence while public speaking is okay. A prolonged pause at the end of a key point is a good thing, as it gives the audience some time to internalise it. Your audience will believe you have paused intentionally.
Take a deep breath, collect yourself, and get comfortable with a little bit of silence. Your next point will come back into your mind sooner than you think.
2. Refer to your notes
Another quick fix when your mind goes blank during a presentation is to look at your slides or any notes you have brought with you.
Chances are, if you’re using slides, they will include the key points of your presentation. Equally, if you have any notes with you, you have probably written out your takeaways.
Usually, I recommend looking at your notes as little as possible, to ensure you aren’t reliant on them. But when your mind goes blank when public speaking, glancing at your slides or bullet points can be all it takes to trigger your memory and get you back into your flow again.
3. Slow down
When you’re nervous, it’s natural for your speaking to speed up. However, this can result in you tripping over your words and freezing up.
If you are speaking and aren’t sure what to say next, try slowing down. This not only gives you time to rediscover what you wanted to say next but also makes you appear much more confident, which ultimately gets your audience to pay closer attention to you.
4. Ask a Question
If you’re really struggling to overcome a mind blank, ask your audience a question based on what you have covered so far. This takes the responsibility to speak next away from you, and instead puts the expectation on them instead.
Asking a question also helps to make your presentation more engaging. It ensures your audience isn’t just passively listening, which will make it more memorable.
5. Open up a Group Discussion
Finally, if you’re struggling and need a bit more time, encourage your audience to talk to each other. Refer back to the point you have just covered and suggest splitting into small groups to talk about it for a few minutes. This gives you time to take a deep breath, check your notes, and mentally find your place again.
A group discussion can be beneficial in another way too, as you might get some different points of view. This could give you new material to cover off the cuff and helps your audience to feel more included in the presentation.
Hopefully, this blog has taught you some simple strategies that can help you to overcome a mind blank when public speaking. The most important thing to do is remain calm – you can find your place again and deliver the presentation successfully!
If you have a presentation or speech coming up and want to learn these techniques and more, my 1-2-1 Public Speaking Accelerator course could help. Over an intensive 6 weeks, we will cover the core skills you need to blow an audience away, including structure, content, delivery, and even your slides!
Want to learn more? I only have the capacity to take 3 people through the Accelerator each quarter, so email Kyle@confidencebydesign.co.uk ASAP to express your interest.