In case you haven’t heard, director Michael Bay had one of those awful speaking meltdowns we all dread but hardly ever see. Watch this before reading on:
I feel bad for him, but his loss is our gain. What can we learn from this?
Be antifragile. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t repeat all the details here, but when Bay said he would just wing it, that was his beautiful opportunity to wow his audience with his knowledge, confidence and adaptability. If he had seen the glitch as a positive, his entire emotional mindset would have changed, from mortification to inspiration. Instead of being dispirited, he could have been energized. Things will go wrong, but this is a perfect opportunity to gain strength and give Mr. Murphy the finger.
Know your stuff. Teleprompter isn’t working right? Who cares, if you know what you want to say. You don’t have to memorize your speech, but you do have to remember it. By remembering, I mean having a clear theme engraved in your mind, a single crystallized point that you want the audience to take away. I also mean having—and remembering—a clear structure for your points. If you know your points, the details will follow. I teach my students to become instant masters of impromptu speaking by simply putting a stake in the ground—just state your main point up front and then elaborate on it or defend it. If you remember the landmarks, you don’t have to memorize the exact route, but you will have the confidence of knowing you will get there.