October 5, 2009

An awkward moment

Download audio here.

You think you're afraid of making a fool of yourself onstage? Imagine being Lady Gaga on Saturday Night Live, wearing a gyroscope-type costume, first trying not to hit herself in the face with the rig while performing and then figuring out how to sit and play the piano as gracefully as possible.

To acknowledge the delay in the performance as she gingerly seated herself, she gave a little wave to the audience. After playing for a moment, she stopped again to remove her sunglasses, which seemed to be in the way as well. In the break she cheerfully remarked, "Hello SNL!"

Sometimes we face awkward or embarrassing moments during our presentations. Sometimes things don't go as smoothly as planned, even after practicing and rehearsing. But handling these moments with grace and humor goes a long way toward minimizing the discomfort of speaker and audience. Focus on the audience's comfort as well as your own. When you're uncomfortable and awkward, the audience absorbs that feeling and reflects it back.

Have you ever seen an athlete throw a temper tantrum when things didn't go their way? Of course you have. It just makes the situation worse, which is something we've all known since we were toddlers.

Take those clumsy moments lightly. Brush them off as minor nuisances, smile and keep going. You maintain your dignity and the audience maintains their respect for you.

Watch Lady Gaga's performance here:

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Sarah Gershman said...

I just watched this last night and was thinking the same thing. I am a speech coach in DC and often tell my clients that if they can handle those embarrassing situations gracefully, they can turn them into the best moments of the entire presentation.

I am adding your blog to my reading list and invite you to look at mine:

Green Room Speakers:



Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. It's amazing what a bit of poise and confidence can do in a moment like this. I'll check out your blog!

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