Friday, September 08, 2006

Public Speaking:Improvise Your Flipchart

Oops! I broke my own rules and did not follow a checklist on my last public speaking engagement. It was two minutes until start time and I realized there was no flipchart in the room. Oh oh!. Better think fast. I was not using an overhead projector either, so I could not simply write on a blank transparency.

Now . . . one and 1/2 minutes left . . . . I thought, "Never let 'em see you sweat." So, I went into the hall way to sweat. I saw a flipchart in use by the Air Force folks who were in the next room. I borrowed one piece of flipchart paper and went back into my room.

Now . . . one minute left. I put the paper on the floor still not knowing what I would do with it. So I hit the stage and begin the program. 30 minutes in it was the moment of truth. I had a spare marker in my prop box. Ok so far. I had masking tape too. . . . but the way the room was set there was no place to put the piece of paper that would allow both sides of the room to see it.
I guess it was time to have some fun.

I asked for three volunteers to BE my flipchart. I qualified the request to include one person with a black shirt (incase the marker leaked through the paper). This got a good laugh. I had the person with the black shirt turn their back to the audience. The other two helpers held the flipchart paper against blackshirt's back. We had a blast!

The three volunteers were laughing. The audience was laughing. Ad-libs were flying. The blackshirt person was getting tickled with the point of the marker. And I still got the point across that I had planned all along.

OK . . . I'll admit I messed up by not checking for the flipchart before speaking. However, if you are willing and able to stay flexible in the face of the inevitable challenges you will face as a fun public speaker, adversity can turn positive very quickly.

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