(On a personal note: A deep thank you for the dozens of emails I have received in the last few weeks commenting on the recent passing of my partner in life and business, my husband, Ed Fischer. I was overwhelmed and am so grateful for the outpouring. )

Having something go wrong when you’re public speaking– no matter how much you’ve practiced — is caused by two types of what I call “gremlins.” These invisible creatures can attack you on stage, during a meeting, in live performances, webinars and during videos.

uh173-3cb921fc-9f7b-4ba2-bbd4-68749967036f-v2The first kind are the technology gremlins. I’m sure you have had the misfortune of meeting them, too.  You double and triple check everything and then a few minutes into your presentation – or half way through – all of a sudden, nothing works.  The gremlins appear unbidden, taking control of the equipment, which no longer performs as you planned. That can be PowerPoint, a microphone, video, an iPad, or any other device.

I remember making a pitch for investors on behalf of a client awhile back at a venture capital conference.  During a break in the program, we had successfully tested the multi-lingual recording of a doctor trying to talk with a patient that opened up my presentation. When it was my turn, a few minutes later, instead of portraying the difficult communication between a doctor and a patient, only dead silence accompanied the opening moments. I had to act like nothing was wrong and go on with the show.

A few weeks ago, I suffered from an unforeseen attack from the second type, the word gremlins, doing a talk on of all subjects, “How to Avoid the Five Most Common Speaking Mistakes that Leaders Make.” As the first of four speakers standing before an impressive audience of bankers and other dignitaries, with the added stress of videographers capturing my every word, I found myself saying things I’d never practiced or intended to bring up. Yikes! Of course, there are no “do overs” when you’re live in front of an audience or running a meeting. You need to just keep going, which I did. No one seemed to notice, uh173-3ee7647f-fa5e-4914-afab-8823eb74de76-v2fortunately.

But when I later watched the video recording, I confess to relieving those painful moments when the invisible word gremlins had taken over my mouth.  My point is, folks, that any of us – experienced or newcomers to speaking – can fall victim to the gremlins, either the technology type or the word version, or both. They can only “win;” however, if we throw our hands up in despair or otherwise give up. Keep practicing before you go on – and stay the course with your message, no matter what happens! These approaches are the best and only anti-gremlin medicine around.

Here are a few upcoming learning opportunities for you:

Thursday, April 21, 6-8:30 pm. International Coaches Federation. How to Open So They Keep Listening to You and Not Their Phones.

Save the Dates: Free Webinars. Avoid These Five Presentations Mistakes to Influence Your Audiences. May 3, or May 5, 12 noon EDT.