Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Thawing Brain Freezes

With Dr Simon Raybould, Curved Vision TheatreIt’s very rare indeed that I sit down to write this tips section and my mind goes instantly blank but it’s just happened this very minute. It (the mind-blanking, that is) happens to presenters from time to time however, so it might be helpful to look at what you can do if you hit the dreaded “brain freeze”….Well, firstly, remember that it’s not as long a moment as it feels like it is. The hormone Cortisol speeds your brain up and if you’re nervous when you’re presenting (and if you’re not, why not!?) so one or two seconds can feel like a lifetime. That gives you time to get yourself sorted out before the audience will even notice there’s a problem.Secondly, don’t panic. Easier said than done, of course! Take a slow, deep breath with your diaphragm and remember to drop your shoulders – you’ll probably have raised them as you tighten up in response to the brain freeze. Keeping them up will make you sound (and feel) more nervous than you need to. Dropping them will start to kick in the counter-hormones you need to calm down again.Thirdly, just take an (internal) re-run at where you were before things went blank. Make sure, though, that you go back quite a long way (do it in your head don’t forget) to give yourself plenty of momentum by the time you get to the glitch moment. The last thing you want is to blank again. Once more, Cortisol will help, as you’ll be thinking at several times your normal speed and – presumably – several times the speed the audience is thinking at.If all else fails do three things…. 1. use your prompt system, notes, or whatever, to find your place again;2. learn from the mistake and admit that you were under-prepared for this presentation so you know better next time; and3. apologise before moving on. Your audience will forgive you, almost always. After all, they’ve all probably been there at some point or another. Far better for you to be honest than to just waffle for a minute or two, losing their respect and interest.And before anyone says anything, yes, I know it’s easier said than done and yes, it happened to me recently! As always, questions and comments to me at; have a look at our public training courses at – the next one’s next month!

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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