If your mind has never gone blank when in front of a group, we hope that your luck holds out. In case it doesn’t and you find yourself standing empty mouthed in front of people you were chatting with a few seconds earlier, here are a few ideas for coping with such occurrences with inner grace and outer recovery:
– First of all, Shield Yourself by having good notes to refer to. If you blank out, pause for a moment to check your notes. Such pauses won’t bother most participants. Saying, “Hang on a second while I check my notes.” is okay, but not necessary. There is nothing wrong with having an outline of key points handy somewhere close at hand and referring to it when needed.
– Relieve some of the pressure you might feel by beginning your sessions with remarks like, “I’m no authority on this topic, or even an expert trainer. However I’ve found this information helpful and hope you will as well.” That kind of introduction may make the people you’re talking to a bit more sympathetic if you do foul up.
– Practice with and use crib notes to help minimize the need to memorize everything. Using the PowerPoint or posters supplied with the MoveSMART®program helps guide you from step to step. Creating you own outline that is posted in the back of the room may also help.
– We’ve seen some trainers who actually added some humor and humanity to a brain-freeze by stopping, turning to an unsuspecting participant and saying, “Excuse me Larry, but I’m lost. What was it that I was going to say next?”
– If you work with a partner, you can both lean on one another if a bail-out is needed. “John, I blanked out just now. What’s the next thing we need to cover?” takes care of the problem and doesn’t really interfere with the flow.
– The simplest way of handling a brain-freeze is to say, “I’m sorry. I just plain can’t think of what’s next. Hang on for a moment while I figure things out.” Then take time to check your notes, gather your thoughts (or buy a ticket for the first bus out of town.)
The main thing is to not let the brain-freeze get you frustrated, embarrassed, or discouraged. Everyone in the group is just thankful it’s not them up front.
Once and awhile every trainer sits down after a presentation and slaps his or her heads because they forgot some point or illustration they had intended to use. Most often the omission did not make much difference in the overall training. Often there is time to insert the material later on if it was indeed essential.
So don’t beat yourself up over lapses. Handle them however works for you – and move on.