Making A Sharp Left Turn (How To Change Your Speech In Mid-Stream)

You did the prep.
You wrote out your entire presentation.
You have practiced in the shower.
Your shampoo and conditioner were paying rapt attention.
Even your dog seemed intrigued by your transitions.

You are ready to go.
The big day is here.
The audience is primed and anticipating.

As you finish your first 15 minutes, you notice something slightly different about your listeners.

It’s a nuance.
A subtlety.
What is it?

Oh yes.


…and you still have 45 minutes to go.

You have 3 choices:
1) Punt immediately and run out of the room in shame. If they are really that bored, they may not notice that you have left until after you have driven away in a disguise.
2) Be stubborn and naive and keep plodding ahead. Obviously, it’s their fault, not yours.
3) Show some Verbal Dexterity and get this presentation kicking!

Here are some things that you can do to re-invigorate that corpse of a speech:

  • Immediately stop talking. Let the silence be noticed. Then change your voice quality dramatically (volume, tone, inflection, pentameter)
  • Be self-deprecating: acknowledge that even you were bored by what you just said (and follow this with something exciting)
  • Change you location. For example, sit down in the middle of the audience and conduct your presentation from there
  • Shut off the projector and talk personally and candidly to your audience
  • Start talking about something personal that all will find interesting
  • Have an interactive “game” ready to go
  • Ask the audience to move around (change seats, clap their hands, repeat phrases after you (increased blood flow always helps)
  • Always have 2 back-up topics/points ready to go just in case
  • Ask the audience what is their top priority and address in a casual/free exchange manner
  • Today’s Tip: The shortest distance between a speaker and his audience may not be a straight line. Don’t leave home without a knapsack of options, alternatives and tap shoes…and always be prepared to make a sharp left turn!

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