Can a speaker be too unflappable?

I recently attended an event to hear an author speak. He was an excellent presenter. He knew his subject backward and forward. His talk was well rehearsed. His passion was obvious. He projected and enunciated, and I had no problem following his fairly complex thesis. He was truly top-notch.

There was one point, however, when I wondered if maybe he was too good. At about 20 minutes into his speech, a third of the lights in the conference room where we sat went out unexpectedly. I saw the speaker’s eyes flicker to the ceiling, but other than that, he didn’t acknowledge the sudden semi-darkness. He just kept on going.

On one hand, I was really impressed; a less adept speaker might have been flustered by the glitch. But on the other hand, I wondered if, perhaps, he should have paused to acknowledge the issue—if only to redirect the audience’s attention back to him. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who stopped fully listening for a few minutes as I wondered about what had happened and watched a panel member frantically try to get to the lights back on.

The speaker didn’t miss a beat, but I sure did.

What would you have done as the speaker in that situation?


4 responses to “Can a speaker be too unflappable?

  1. Would probably acknowledge the lack of movement that caused the lights to dim. Would encourage everyone to stand and wave to their neighbor, this movement usually turns the lights on. Or a comment would be, “We really need a little more light on this subject.” Either way, catch up with the audience.

  2. Another way is to acknowledge the change, but be prepared to move on with greater passion.

    • John, All excellent ideas! I really like your suggestion to use the motion-sensor lights as an excuse to get people out of their seats. That’s a great way to wake everyone up and energize the audience. Unfortately, I don’t think it would have worked in this particular case, because I believe our lights were on a timer that wasn’t adjusted for this after-hours talk. But it’s a great way to deal with that very common problem, and I’ll certainly keep it in mind!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. Pingback: Do you have contingency plans? Prepare for these 4 possibilities | Workplace Survival

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