WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU GO BLANK ON STAGE?
You are on the stage. You feel confident. You have started your first 2 mins of the speech. Then all of a sudden, you go blank. Everyone is starring at you. The whole audience is quiet, waiting for your next sentence. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
What can you do?
1. Breathe, pause and restart.
The best thing to do is not to panic and start apologizing for not remember your speech. This will only make things much more noticeable. Instead, stop, breathe, count slowly 1,2,3 and restart. Whatever that comes out of your mouth does not matter. Just talk about something that relates to your title/topic and eventually a relevant point will come back.
2. Repeat the last line if you can.
One of the techniques I have come across is to repeat what you have just said. This will buy you time to reposition yourself. Also, repeat it after pausing, with confidence, so it sounds like you are emphasizing a point.
3. Come clean.
Sometimes the delivery is not as great that you may just want to say, "I am not sure what I have been talking about. Let me restart and give you a clearer understand to what I want to say." Then going back to the topic, "here are my 3 points ..."
4. Let it go, let it go ...
It is very okay to forget what you have written. There may be certain words you want to use while you are practicing and somehow you totally forget about them while delivering your speech. It's okay! Don't think about it anymore. If you forget them, let it go. Leave it and continue with what you remember. Those one or two words will not make your speech any less impactful.
5. Stumble through and it will be fine.
If you really jolt during a speech, it's perfectly okay. Same as using unnecessary sounds to cover up your mistake, pause and move on. That 3 second pause on stage which seems like a 10 minutes pause to the speaker is so minute that no one can every notice it. It is when you start speaking in nonsense that people will know what is going on.
6. Practice, practice & practice.
Of course, to avoid this situation, practicing is the key. I have given a 10 minutes speech in front of 200 people and I have practiced it at least 20 times on the day before my presentation. It really makes a difference, and later you will find the speech comes out so automatically that you will not believe it.