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The Trick to Smoothing Out Stumbles
September 24, 2020 at 4:00 AM
The Trick to Smoothing Out Stumbles

A surge of adrenaline in the middle of a presentation can feel like an electricity surge to your unprotected electronics. It runs the risk of blowing everything up.

It’s common for adrenaline to surge when you stumble during a presentation. The instinct to be perfect, tricks your body to flood adrenaline through your bloodstream. And that actually makes the fix harder than it should be because it will make you want to speed up your delivery.

What to Do When You Stumble

When you stumble across a word or a phrase don’t speed up. Slow down. Pause. Here’s why: Your thoughts move at the speed of electricity. Your mouth only moves at about the speed of someone with good keyboard skills—about 110-140 words per minute, max. In other words, your mouth can never catch up to your thoughts. You can rush like a maniac, but you won’t catch up. You’ll just wind up sounding like a maniac.

But if you work it the other way around the results will amaze you. The next time you stumble in a speech or presentation, pause. Slow down. In an instant your thoughts will re-synchronize with your mouth. This is especially true if you’re reading a speech.

Power of the Pause

The pause and slower pace resets the delicate balance between your thoughts and your mouth. It also puts your audience at ease and helps your audience relate to you.

Your audience will gladly forgive the occasional stumble over a word or phrase—as long as you don’t panic and try to speed up to catch up. Slowing down and pausing lets your audience know you don’t panic. When you relax so does your audience. Don’t sprint through your next stumble. Slow down. You’ll probably get through your speech or presentation faster because you will avoid talking yourself into more mistakes by not talking too fast.