Speak Out to Play a Bigger Game

When a speaker cancels at the last minute

March 31, 2017 | Paula Smith

When a speaker cancels

Presentation Skills – what would you do? 

I used to joke that I hoped a speaker cancels at the last minute so I can jump up and say ‘I’m ready, pick me’ but when it happens…. Oh My Goodness.
On Monday night about an hour before a big event one of the 6 speakers decides after 2 months of preparation and marketing that she ‘just can’t make it’.  6 speakers were promised to the audience so at the last minute I had to step up.

This was not any presentation though this was a PechaKucha presentation that sometimes takes weeks to prepare as it has to have stunning visuals and be perfectly timed and rehearsed. 20 slides, 20 seconds each and then the next slide rolls on. I had an hour, not to mention I was also the MC at the event. So, be careful what you wish for. Lucky for me I didn’t have time to stress, I just had to get cracking and design a presentation. I chose one of my favourite speaking topics ‘The Power of Story’ so it was easy to design the content but choosing the right images and timing it perfectly was a little more challenging.

Can you really prepare for an impromptu presentation? Yes

Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t panic. If you panic and get stressed about your presentation, you will not be able to prepare and organise your thoughts. Breathe and slow everything down.

2. Confidence is key. The more you speak in front of an audience, the more comfortable and confident you will be if you are approached to speak without notice.

3. Use a structure. Once you know and are comfortable with a structure you can use that structure at a moments notice.

4. You are always ready. Have a few of your slide presentations on a memory stick or in a drop box so you can access them anywhere at any time. If you use slides.

5. If you have to start from scratch (Like I did last week) Speak around one central idea that you are really comfortable speaking about and sequence it so it is engaging and informative. Less is more.

So next time someone asks ‘can anyone here stand in for the speaker?’ your answer will be ‘Yes of course’

If you need help to master your next presentation reach out.

Keynote Speaker CSP, Master Trainer, Author and Business Leadership Coach
Paula has been helping experts, entrepreneurs, leaders and teams to harness the power of speaking, leadership and effective communication for the past 30 years. 

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