Art of Public Speaking:
Improvise Your Flipchart
Oops! I broke my own rules of the art of public speaking, I 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. You can see I flipped over a flipchart, and the
crowd nearly flipped over laughing.
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 (in truth, I never returned it).
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
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. Now all these folks were involved in the
performance art of public speaking.
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. Making lemonade out
of lemons is part of the art of public speaking.
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