November 15, 2005 Present Like A Pro Newsletter
Inspiring You to Discover, Develop, & Delight in Your Strengths
Welcome fellow speaker! This weekly newsletter from Present Like A Pro is here to provide you with on-going tips and inspiration as you develop your skills as a speaker. In every issue are practical tools that you can use in your very next presentation.

This edition: 1,109 words; 2-3 minute read

Turn Off Your Own Cell Phone
by Sara Schaffer   How to Handle The Unexpected
As the group started to answer the discussion questions, a cell phone started ringing in the audience. I was in the middle of conducting a workshop, and we had just started the first set of exercises. I looked out to see who would be grabbing and silencing their phone. With horror, I suddenly realized that it was MY purse that was ringing!

Whether they come from you, the audience or some other source, distractions are a part of presenting. The key is in how we deal with these disruptions. Here are 4 ways to handle distractions and Present Like A Pro!

1 - Ignore it. If a small disruption happens just once, it may be best to simply ignore it. By continuing on in your talk, you will keep the momentum going. This way, if some people didn't even notice what happened, you will keep their focus on you.

2 - Acknowledge it. An on-going or truly major interruption may require you to actually say something to your listeners. If the presentation slides you're using are not cooperating with your talk, for example, you may need to simply say something to help your listeners focus before you continue.

3 - Incorporate it. Another great way to handle a disruption is by incorporating it into your talk. I heard a speaker say "Has anyone read this book?" Then as a phone rang in the audience she asked specifically, "Has the person who's phone is ringing read this book?" She kept the focus on her talk while acknowledging the disruption.

4 - Laugh about it. Perhaps the best way to deal with interruptions is to simply laugh about them. For example, when I realized my phone was ringing I made a comment about how that was of course a planned part of my presentation...Turn a potentially awkward moment into an enjoyable one for you and your audience.


If you want to add impact and creativity to your presentations, check out the great resources at Present Like A Pro.


By preparing well for your presentation, you can minimize the interruptions you will have. Turning off your own cell phone, for example, can be a great place to start! However, we can never completely eliminate the unexpected.

Handle your distractions like a pro by ignoring, acknowledging, incorporating or laughing about them. Prepare a comeback line to deal with expected disruptions like late-comers and ringing cell phones. Most importantly, keep a sense of humor! When you deal well with the unexpected, you Present Like A Pro!

Look for The Fiddle Maker
  Looking Past Small Disappointments
I could tell that the meeting organizer was terribly embarrassed. We both looked at my dinner plate with confusion and disgust. It was the second meal they had served me, and the meat on this plate was also red and raw. The chairperson looked at me with helpless empathy. I decided not to eat it.

I hadn't shown up there for the food anyway.

I was there, after all, to share some stories of hope and inspiration with my audiences. Internally I started to complain about the peas and mashed potatoes that made up the rest of my dinner. I quickly realized though, that my focus needed to shift or I would miss my whole reason for being there.

I turned my chair and instead focused on the speaker who was currently at the microphone.

As he spoke, I found myself quickly fascinated by his work and his warm personality. He was an older gentleman who talked about his life with a humble wisdom. I forgot about the disappointing meal in front of me and took advantage of the opportunity to learn from this stranger.

He described his job as a "fiddle-maker" with gentle strength. I listened intently as he described the mistakes and lessons he had learned in the process of making violins. He also talked about the joy he had each time he completed one.

We all "ooohed" and "aaaahed" as he shyly held up one of his beautiful hand-crafted instruments.

I had never had the opportunity to meet such an artist. His humble, gentle manner was mesmerizing. Though we were in a banquet hall, it was easy to imagine him in a shop full of sawdust and special tools, working on his beloved instrument. To close his presentation he played us a song on his fiddle.

By the time it was my turn to speak, I had nearly forgotten about my disappointing meal. The violin maker had reminded me of how much there is in this world to learn and enjoy. What a shame it would have been if I had missed his talk by worrying about my dinner.

The next time I find myself feeling disappointed or let down, I'm going to look for the fiddle maker and enjoy the music.

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Need A Speaker? In addition to presentation coaching, Sara regularly speaks to corporate and community groups. Whether you are looking for something educational, motivational or inspirational, she will add humor and depth to your next special event. For booking information, contact Sara today at: 303-818-2509 or

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