"What to Say When You're Dyin' On the Platform!"

book by Lilly Walters,

from McGraw Hill

It's just amazing how many things can ... and do ... go wrong when you give a presentation. Having strategies and "saver-lines" at the ready can make the difference between being a brilliant communicator or watching yourself die a slow painful death up there. Following are a just a few scenarios, savers and solutions you should keep in mind when you present, with special advice from successful speakers, executives and entertainers.

All material from the following is (c) 1996 by Lilly Walters, and may not be reproduced in any manner with written permission from Lilly Walters, PO Box 1120, Glendora, CA 91740, phone 909-398-1228

 

So, what should you do and say when ..

 

YOU TRIP ON THE WAY TO THE LECTERN

TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING

Before you stand up to walk to the lectern, take a deep breath, get "centered," then stand up and walk. Go slow. Your adrenaline is running at a much - MUCH - faster pace than the audiences. So although you feel like you are crawling slowly to the lectern, they are seeing you scurry along at a good clip. Slow down.

WHAT TO DO

So you trip. Y'all know no one really minds that you trip. Chevy Chase made a career out it. They mind if you get hurt. They mind if you seem upset or angry. Just be light hearted about it and it will set the stage for a great presentation. They like you better when you're human and have faults - especially if you can laugh at them. Turn it into a gag, overstate it. Make it so big that the audience thinks it's so exaggerated, it must be part of the act. - Ron Lee

WHAT TO SAY

Tah dah! (Put you hands in the air as if you planned it) - Terry Paulson I think I may have stumbled onto something back there. - Roger Langley Thank you. That was my impersonation of Chevy Chase (or Gerald Ford, Dick Van Dyke, John Ritter, Evel Knievel) - John Nisbet Hey, it's an acquired skill. - Bob Burg Practice, practice, practice. - Jim McJunkin So, let me tell you how things are going at charm school. - Steve Gottlieb

 

YOU SWEAT

TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING

Remember the movie "Broadcast News" (Twentieth Century Fox), with Albert Brooks? One day Albert's character finally gets his big chance to anchor the news. In front of the camera his body goes crazy. He can barely see from the sweat pouring down his face and into his eyes. Yes, it can happen to anyone. (Please God, not me!) It might happen to you for several reasons: 1. It's hot In which case, everyone else is sweating too, and nobody really cares 2. You're physically ill 3. You're having a nervous attack. Now this we can do something about. This sort of nervousness will hit you when you think are bombing. Simply go the the material you are 100% comfortable with, and deliver that. If it is going to be your first time up there, you will cure 75% of your fears through rehearsal and preparation.

WHAT TO DO

Break them into discussion groups. While they are talking among themselves - calm down. Go over your notes, cut the things you are not feeling comfortable about. Firmly think of the three things you want them to take home. Go back into the speech with those three things in mind. Don't worry about the presentation being too short; they'll rarely complain about that.

WHAT TO SAY

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. - Winston Churchill What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance. - Jane Austin, 1775-1817, Englist novelist. There must be something very sensual about speaking in front of this audience. This doesn't normally happen to me. - Terry Braverman

 

YOUR FEET HURT

TO PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING

Normally your feet go on strike when you are doing a several hour program. Although your feet may hurt in a shorter session, your adrenaline will carry you through and you most likely won't notice. I was in a musical where I had to do two hours barefoot. No problem until I pulled a tendon in my foot and it kept screaming at me when I stepped on it. But every time a cue came for me to go on, I forgot everything but the show. I was not being brave, the pain just went away while I was performing, waiting in the wings again was another story. However, if your doggies are barking at the end of an 8 hour session, the old adrenaline rush that carried you that far is pretty much gone. So some smarter tactics - other than relying solely on your enthusiasm - are a super idea. One obvious strategy is to wear comfortable shoes - ladies. Yes, ladies. We are worst for wanting to show off a nice thin (looking) calf - which is why some masochist female invented high heels. The downward slant of the foot makes the calf ever so much more attractive. But, if at the end of 8 hours they are still thinking about your calves and not your content, you might as well try a new career. Wear shoes you know you can wear all day, low heels, good support and padding (running shoes would be great if I felt I could get away with it :::sigh:::, and no, we can't). NEVER present or perform in new shoes, unless you are going to be seated for the whole presentation! Try them out someplace else, make sure to wear them for the same amount of time you will standing on them.

WHAT TO DO

Go into the restroom, run the water as hot as you can get it. Take your shoes, one at a time, and allow the water to totally saturated the inside and outside of the leather. Make the wetness even, or your shoes will look wet. Shake them off and use a paper or cloth towel to dry them a bit more. Now put the wet (and yes squishy) shoes on your feet and go back to work. The wet, even though warm, is soothing to your feet. The hot water loosens the leather which helps combat the chaffing. As the leather dries it conforms to your foot, not the foot of some model back at the shoe factory. Because you carefully wet the whole shoe, it will just appear darker in color, not wet to the audience. Soaking your shoes can't be very good for their longevity. But, your performance, and your lack of pain, are more important than a few months added to your shoe's life! Better the shoes early demise than your feet! I hesitate to mention this, but when I went to Australia, guess who used brand new shoes for her full day programs? Yeah, yeah, yeah Š that's why they asked me to write my last book, "What to Say When You're Dyin' On the Platform!" (McGraw Hill, March,1995) - I've done plenty of dumb things. Within the first hour of the seminar I do a section on how important it is to be physically comfortable in order to teach well. Well there I was, with my footsies were hurting big time already! Inspiration hit, I said, "The most important thing is for you to let go of your worries of how they think about you! You need to concentrate on them! If your shoes hurt - get rid of them!" and I kicked my shoes off with a great show and said with great sincerity, "They are not important," pointing at the shoes, "the audience, their needs and wants is what matters. That is what you are there for." I saw all their eyes glaze as they filled with inspiration. I'm thinking, whoa, that stays in. I did the entire rest of the day barefoot.

WHAT TO SAY

(make a big show of dramatic, limping ) It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees! Thank goodness I don't have my brains in my feet. (look at an audience member and say), Never mind, don't say it. - Lilly Walters

All material from the following is (c) 1996 by Lilly Walters, and may not be reproduced in any manner with written permission from Lilly Walters, PO Box 1120, Glendora, CA 91740, phone 909-398-1228 Lilly Walters is a best selling author, she is a featured author in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul," series of products and the author of "What to Say When You're Dying On the Platform!" (McGraw Hill, 1995) "Secrets of Successful Speakers" (McGraw Hill, 1993). "Speak and Grow Rich" (Prentice-Hall, 1988 and 1996)

 

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