Have you ever had a speaking engagement that you practiced for, day after day, until you had it memorized verbatim? Ever find yourself stumbling over those same words once you were in front of an audience? Guilty. Here at Temple, StratComm majors are required to take a public speaking course. But one course won’t eliminate the occasional slip-up. So what do you do when you’re at a loss for words? Below are a few tips on regrouping yourself during a speech:
1. Incorporate your own experience to answer the question while buying time: It’s perfectly okay to say, “I’ve never been asked that before,” or “Let me think back to when I first experienced that.” It will buy you time to remember what it was that you wanted to say. If it doesn’t then just move along to your next point, don’t sweat the small stuff.
2. Don’t um and ah: These two words are tell-tale signs to the audience that you are lost. Use longer phrases to mix it up and buy you more time than two letters will.
3. If appropriate to the question, use the time-buying phrase to redirect the answer to a point you want to make: If someone asks you a question that you don’t have an answer to, or that a simple no would suffice, use a time-buying phrase to transition into your next statement, or redirect.
4. Don’t say anything: At least for a couple seconds! It’s okay to just take a couple seconds to recollect yourself, it’s better than stuttering through or peppering your speech with ums and ahs.
What are your best strategies for regrouping during a speech? Let us know!