Brain Freeze! How to Stop It and How to Handle It.

Most speakers have experienced brain freeze. Your mind blanks, your brain stops working, and all you hear is white noise.  

Why does it happen:

  • Anxiety. The speaker feels anxious and unsure.
  • Pacing. The speaker talks so quickly that the brain does not have time to organize the next thought.
  • Memorize. The speaker has attempted to memorize their speech / presentation like a movie script. 
  • Distractions. The speaker gets flustered by a distraction.

How to prevent it from happening:

  • Practice material, but do not memorize it. Ensure you are familiar with the overall flow of the material. 
  • Practice while speaking at a slower than usual pace. 
  • Practice with distractions around you. 

Have a plan for what to do if it happens:

  • Pause and allow your brain to organize your next thought. Do not feel the need to fill the air with words. 
  • Take a deep breath. Focus on relaxing your facial muscles and shoulders. 
  • Act as though you intended to stop to do something else; drink water, or refer to notes.
  • Use the pause to gain attention, and then repeat your last point. “This is important, so let me say it again….”
  • Put the spotlight on someone else by throwing a question to a colleague or asking someone’s opinion.
  • If you know the group well enough, be honest and say you lost your way. People are more forgiving than we imagine.