Public Speaking: Stay Cool in the Hot Seat



It’s your big presentation and all eyes are on you as you drive home your winning point. Then suddenly the unexpected happens: You draw a complete blank, a heckler interrupts you, the teleprompter stops working. Terror. Panic. Failure. 

What you need is a plan to deal with The Unexpected.

Recently, Butterfield Speaks Associate Amy Wieczorek helped an executive learn to manage the unexpected during a workshop at a high profile media company. When the executive expressed his fear that his audience would not pay attention, she put him in The Pressure Cooker. As part of his preparation, Amy asked his colleagues to pretend to be disengaged, bored and distracted during his run-through. He was at a loss as to how to handle their inattention, and all but surrendered control to his unruly audience.

Amy offered him a tip:

Create a Pattern Interrupt: Pose a question that grabs the audience’s attention.

As part of your preparation, come up with  a genuine query or two that relates to the subject of your presentation. Keep in your back pocket and use it to interject when you need to recapture the attention of the audience. Keep the tone light and your attitude positive.

The executive thought about what he could ask his audience and began again. This time when they lost interest, he deliberately changed direction by taking a poll and followed it with a relevant quip. Seamlessly, he regained their attention, got back on track, and most importantly, he maintained his composure. His ability to remain calm and self-assured was applauded.



The unexpected can happen to anyone. So we developed The Pressure Cooker; a new workshop element in our Power of Persuasion curriculum designed to give you experience in managing the unexpected.

In this workshop, we help you build the confidence and savvy to remain in the moment and masterfully handle whatever comes your way. We’ll discuss and prepare for some of the most common stage mishaps. You’ll also learn tips and tactics to stay present, buy time, take a breath and find your way. With a little pressure testing, you can stay cool in the hot seat — even in the face of seeming catastrophe.

The Pressure Cooker and other Presentation Skills workshops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.