Brain freeze during a presentation – what we can learn from Michael Bay’s (embarrassing) appearance!
It’s every presenters worst nightmare – brain freeze! All of a sudden it all just seems to have gone. Your brain is empty and you can’t access your memory anymore – as if someone had just pulled the plug out!
This is exactly what happened to Hollywood director Michael Bay (Transformers etc.) at the Samsung press conference at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. In this case though, the director froze because of a broken teleprompter, which is where he was reading his lines from.
Here is the video of him:
Even though just watching it almost makes you want the ground to swallow you up, you still have to ask “what can we learn from it?” You should always learn something from any defeat!
1. NEVER rely on technology!
There are many technical possibilities – Powerpoint, Prezi, videos, animations, multimedia installations, audio effects etc. that can strengthen a presentation. Tools such as teleprompters can also help you keep an eye on the content of your presentation.
BUT, NONE of these tools should ever take priority. YOU are the presentation and it’s because of you and your speech that the people are sitting in the audience. The audience want to hear from you, what you have to say on the matter; they want to listen to your experiences and then afterwards, ask you questions. People don’t want a ‘robot who reads off a pre-written text from a screen.’
This is why you should NEVER – and I mean ‘NEVER’ – depend on technology.
If any kind of technical aid stops working during your speech, you need to have your presentation, your story, so fixed in your mind that you can continue without technology. Because YOU are the presentation, not the technology. The technology can and must only be a supporting measure.
To achieve this you need to ensure the structure of your topic and content is fixed in your mind. This again requires good preparation and practice, practice, practice!
2. Practice, practice, practice – YOU are the presentation!
Everyone’s been there, you have a presentation the next day and are still cobbling something together quickly the day before! Although this works in many cases, everyone still knows it’s not ideal. And because of this, people often feel more nervous before an appearance, just because they know they are ill prepared.
Tests are no different either, the less you have learned, the more nervous you feel. The same principle applies to the presentation situation and to the stage fright associated with this.
This is why the best measure against stage fright is simply just practice, practice, practice! And keep going until you feel really confident, until what you want to say and do in your presentation is internalized in such a way that it is completely natural to you.
By this I don’t mean you should memorise a text, but rather ensure the content and themes are so firmly embedded in you that you can render them in your own words in any situation – without pre-written text on a teleprompter.
The Michael Bay example is a perfect object lesson here, whereby he couldn’t even manage to talk about the simplest topic – i.e. about himself! But sometimes you need extreme examples in order to really think about things!
3. A good start is half the battle!
Nervousness and stage fright are always worse at the beginning of a speech. This is why it’s all the more important for the presentation to get off to a good start.
Just like with sport, a good start in a presentation also serves as a turbo for the rest of the appearance. If the beginning runs smoothly, you start to feel less nervous and more relaxed, and able to manage the rest of the presentation quite naturally.
This is why when you are planning, and also later when practicing, you should focus on ensuring that the first minute/few minutes are perfect.
Want to avoid brain freeze during a presentation?
Having brain freeze has to be any presenters worst nightmare. From a human point of view though, it’s a scenario that can fundamentally happen to anyone. However, if you really take to heart the three tips above, then the chance of experiencing the kind of brain freeze Michael Bay did is very, very, very low.
If you’d like to find out more about planning the perfect presentation, creating powerful presentation documents and then delivering this with enjoyment an enthusiasm, please get in touch with us! Because we’re saving the world from dull presentations and are delighted when someone wants to join us in making the world a little better – one presentation after the other!
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