How to Recover from a Memory Lapse during a Speech

Learn how to recover from a memory lapse from media coach TJ Walker in this Howcast public speaking video.


So how do you recover from a memory lapse? Now, everybody forgets what
they're going to say from time to time. The real challenge is not
suddenly developing a perfect memory when you're giving a speech or a
presentation. That's hard. Now, beyond the fact that we all forget
from time to time, we're nervous when we give speeches and
presentations. When we're nervous, our brain isn't telling us, "Remember things better." Our brain is telling us, "Run!"

So chances are good that you're going to forget things from time to
time. It's not important that you have a perfect memory. The important
thing is what you do once that happens.

Now, what most people do when they forget is they telegraph it instantly
to their audience. Or they actually articulate, "Oops, I forgot." You
don't want to be like Rick Perry in that Presidential debate. "There
are three departments that I want to eliminate. The first one is this,
the second one is and Oops, I forgot."

You don't want to be like that. Here's one challenge for you don't
number things. Don't tell people you've got four points you want to
cover. Simply say here's a point. Here's the next. Here's the next,
and if you forget the forth, no one will know.

Here's the real key with memory. Your audience doesn't know what you've
forgotten. Your audience doesn't have your outline, so if you forget
something, relax. Go to another point. You can always come back. And
realize inwardly, you can be thinking, "Oh no, I forgot, I forgot," but
outwardly, project calm. Project confidence.

Sometimes, simply pause as if you just said something so brilliant, this
audience needs a few seconds to think about it. Again, inwardly you can
be panicking, thinking you forgot, but if you've finished a couple of
points and you forget the next, just pause. Sometimes you pause, look
down, walk five feet across the stage or across the room as if it whole
thing were planned. Again, your audience isn't going to know that you
forgot unless you tell them. If you don't tell them, they'll never know. It'll be our little secret.

Popular Categories