All speakers have moments that they don’t plan, don’t want, and don’t need. Throats get tickled; minds forget lines; and tongues tangle over the simplest phrases. It’s impossible to ignore — from the speaker’s point-of-view. The temptation is to make fun of it, draw attention to it, make and excuse for it, or make up for it. The best solution, when possible, is to just move on.But when that’s not possible, or when the personality and audience make it a perfect time for a one-liner, it’s a great time to pull one out of the ol’ bag o’ tricks. These one-liners should only be used once per audience, shouldn’t be overused, and need to be sensitive to context. But used effectively, they are great ways to diffuse a hiccup and move forward.When the throat gets a catch, the voice will not produce. Water might help, but it might not. It’ll take a few swallows and a few more seconds to clear up. What to do? My favorite one-liner if the topic warrants is, “Talking about [this topic] always gets me choked up.” I heard a great one recently: “Say goodbye to my family if I die up here.” The audience will laugh, which gives a few more seconds to recuperate, and allows for a full recovery before moving on.When a klutzy move occurs — and they will — just move on. I watched a speaker recently trip over a support to the display screen and proceed to make a comment about it several more times during the presentation. While the first mention was marginal (just ignore it), the second and third were not only unnecessary, they were distracting.The blank mind is perhaps the most frustrating. As speakers, we work hard to craft our content and say just the precise things. When the ol’ memory unit suffers from a buffer overrun, it can cause awkward pauses and perhaps the loss of a key element. But lamenting the gap typically does little. A one-liner, a pause, and move on. “It must not have been meant for us to cover that, since I can’t remember what it was.” “That thought would have impressed even me, but I can’t recall exactly what it was.“This would be a great time to use the comments section of the blog to share some of your favorites. What one-liners do you use or have you heard that get a speaker out of a jam?
Have some stock one-liners that allow a graceful exit from unfortunate happenings, and move on.