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Public Speaking Course: 

Improvise Your Flipchart

At one of my public speaking engagements I completely broke my own rules I teach in my public speaking course. I forgot to follow my preplanned checklist, Oops!

It was two minutes until the beginning of my presentation and I realized that I had no
flipchart in the room. Uh oh! I had to think fast. I was not using an overhead projector either, so I could not simply write on a blank transparency. Now with one and 1/2 minutes left . . . . I thought to myself, "Never let 'em see you sweat." So, I went into the other room to sweat instead.

I saw a flipchart that was to be used by the Air Force people who were in the next
room. I "borrowed" one piece of flipchart paper and went back into my room (in truth, I never returned it).

Now there was one minute left. I put the paper on the floor still not having any idea how I was going to do use it. So I got on the stage and began my presentation. Thirty minutes into my speech was the moment of truth. Luckily I did have a spare marker in my prop box. Ok so far. I had masking tape too. . . . but the way the room was set up 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 add some fun to the situation. I asked for three volunteers from the audience to BE my flipchart. I also stated that one person needed to have 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 the black shirt's back.

We had a blast! The three volunteers were laughing. The audience was laughing. Ad-libs were flying. The black shirt person was getting tickled with the point of the marker. And I still got the point across that I had planned all along. Now everyone was involved and participating and having fun. I kept my cool and used what I teach in my public speaking course to still make an impact.

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, a sticky situation can turn positive very quickly. Making lemonade out
of lemons is part of using what you learned in your public speaking course.

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