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America’s Fear: Public Speaking and Teleprompter #FAILS

It’s awards and event season in the entertainment industry. There is plenty to talk about, especially when it’s the “talks” themselves that we are buzzing about.

Earlier this month at the “Golden Globes,” actors Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie were put in the hot seat when the teleprompter wasn’t working. A month earlier, movie director Michael Bay found himself sans teleprompter assistance during a Samsung presentation at CES. In each situation, technology failed the speakers – leaving them struggling and panicking in front of a live audience around the world.

Jonah and Margot handled the situation with honesty and poise – briefly explaining the delay/mix-up and how the teleprompter was out of order. Luckily, someone rushed from off stage and handed them paper notes to pull them through.

Bay, on the other hand, had no back-up plan. His presentation was long, and it looked as if he hadn’t memorized even one line of his speech. Flummoxed, he at first attempted to “wing it” but ended up walking off the stage – frustrated and undeniably embarrassed. During the “Golden Globes,” co-host Tina Fey even mocked the CES incident.

Public speaking is not easy for most people, and it definitely doesn’t help when the one thing you thought you could rely on (aka the teleprompter) goes completely out of whack.

But what can we learn from these situations? There are some easy tips to keep in mind when preparing for and getting up in front of a crowd for a big presentation:

  • Confidence: You have been chosen as a speaker for a reason, so make sure that you exert confidence during your presentation. Be honest with your audience regarding any snafus, but don’t let that sway your speech by any means.
  • Focus: Know your subject matter. Don’t go over the top with apologies for what you don’t have with you to present or what you do not know. Rather, focus on what you can in fact speak to and discuss that material with poise.
  • Body Language: Stay upright. No crouching or nervous pacing. Open up and engage with your audience. Show enthusiasm!
  • Keep Simple Notes: It is ok to have back up note cards to get through your presentation should electronics fail you. However, avoid using notes as a crutch. Remember, keywords work best as thought starters so that you don’t sound overly scripted or are stuck looking down at a paper throughout the entire speech.
  • Rehearse: The best way to succeed at any task is to prepare for it. Rehearse your speech as much as you can — in front of the mirror and/or friends and colleagues. Knowing the material very well will calm nerves and give you some confidence so that very few unexpected interruptions or tech fails will rattle you.

And last but not least… breathe deeply, take a sip of water, and face that fear!

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