You know how it is when you’re all ready to go out to a meeting, or a show…nice and calm. And then you can’t find your car keys. All of a sudden you’re not calm, you’re stressed and off balance. And when you finally do find the keys, you rush to the car, drive away to fast, a bit disheveled and none to pleased with yourself.
That’s the feeling I had a few weeks ago while beginning a keynote presentation. Upon taking the stage, my headset microphone malfunctioned and then fell off. As I grabbed another microphone on the stage, the stand it was on collapsed. As they say, timing is everything and my planned timing was gone…forever. We only have one introductory moment per presentation. In a live setting you can’t rewind the audience and undo what they’ve just seen.
So I did the only thing I could do; I kept moving forward. I started dancing with the broken microphone stand, told the crowd they’d never hear the one joke I planned and humored the sound guy until he got the problem solved. I did not spend more than one second thinking about the presentation that got away. I went forward with the presentation I had left, keeping it relaxed and a bit funnier than I had originally planned.
After years of performing I’ve learned that in order to be in the moment, one has to stay in the moment. When you lose the keys to your keynote, or the power chord to your power-point, get into that moment. Don’t even think about what you were going to do. Simply think about who you are, who the audience is, why they are there and what you have to offer. Then plow forward into improvisation and you’ll most likely deliver the best speech you’ve ever given.