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When technology stops and your brain stops time

What to when a technical glitch interrupts your speech, talk or presentation.

You've got an hour of carefully planned content to share with your audience and the last thing you need is a projector switching off or a microphone giving feedback. For some people, these moments are when their fear of public speaking really kicks in. The fear of failing to fix a device in front of an audience. The fear of forgetting what you're going to say next. The fear of running out of time.


When we're in a state of fear, our brains construct more memories than usual about what happened only a few milliseconds ago. This plays with our sense of time. While the audience remains relaxed and patient, you feel like your tech issue is eating up time itself.


In these moments listen to your body. Plant your feet firmly on the ground. Wet your mouth with water. Breathe until your pulse slows.


Then ask for help.


If there isn't someone on hand to deal with your tech issue while you continue, simply do what your high school teacher would have done when interrupted, invite your audience to talk among themselves while you pause and adapt.


Remember to own the room. Tech issues and interruptions can be a real distraction when you're in full flow, but they happen all the time. Every audience has seen it before. Use interruptions to demonstrate that you can adapt because you know your stuff and you've prepared for this. Don't let your audience think that without your slide deck, you don't actually have anything to say. A few minutes to restart your laptop may feel like forever to you, but for your audience it will barely register if you stay calm, good humoured and in control.

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