Hilarious Public Speaking Mishaps – (I Swear I’m Not Making Any of This Up)

microphonePublic speaking is challenging enough when you do it right. At the same time, you also need to be prepared for when things go wrong, even if you’re the thing going wrong.

I was interviewed today for an internet show and after the interview the host and I got to talking about public speaking mishaps. I don’t have her permission to share hers with you since I just now thought about writing this article.

A Few Public Speaking Mishaps

Public Speaking Mishap #1 – This one happened when I was speaking down in Florida. I was scheduled to do both the lunch keynote and dinner keynote for this event.

The lunch keynote I had done so many times I could probably stand up and do it now from memory.

The dinner keynote was brand new. It was called the AMAZING Foster parent. I had come up with a list of great characteristics of foster parents using each of the letters in the word amazing.

So that night before things got going I put my notes up on the podium just in case I needed them. A couple of people got up to talk for a few minutes before it was my turn. As I got up to speak and approached the podium I discovered that one of the folks who had spoken before me had also taken my notes.

Oh crap…

So I just told myself these two things:

Thing 1: That there were at most only 2 people in a room of 500 that knew my notes were gone – me and maybe the person that took them.

Thing 2: All I had to do was remember how to spell the word “amazing” and I would be OK.

Public Speaking Mishap #2 – I was doing a day long workshop with about 75 people. During the morning break I went to the men’s room. This is how I learned to turn my lapel mic OFF before using the rest room, because this time I didn’t.

I came back into the room to a standing ovation and someone told me what had happened. All I could think to do with me and my red face was to take a bow.

Public Speaking Mishap #3 – About 3 minutes into an after lunch presentation, a woman in the back of the room began to choke. I and a few others rushed back to help. When I got back there her husband was just calmly and gently rubbing her back.

Turns out she had some kind of swallowing disorder and something she had eaten for lunch had triggered it.

So I’m walking back up to the front of the room to continue my talk and I’m thinking “How I am now going to shift the mood of this crowd.

The first thing I did was have everyone give her a round of applause for being OK. The second thing I said was,

 “This is kinda strange. Most folks wait until after my talk to get all choked up”

And for the record, I want to give credit where credit is due. I learned the ability to be ready for anything and to think quickly on my feet in front of hundreds of people from my friend and speaking mentor Tom Antion. Thanks buddy…

Bonus Tip A great way to commit a speech to memory is to write an article about it first. The process of running it through your brain as you type helps commit it to memory.

Give it a try by getting Free Instant Access to one of my most powerful Content Creation Templates when you visit http://JeffHerring.com/jh/3mistakes/

You’ll get the template and get to look over my shoulder in a video as I create content using the 3 Mistakes Template.

About The Author

Jeff Herring

Discover 5 simple steps for 6 figure success online with content marketing.


  • Adejoke

    Reply Reply

    Brilliant Recovery!

  • Great recovery. What a great way to connect with your audience.

    • Thanks Laura – it really did help connect with the audience…

      ~ Jeff

  • aida suarez

    Reply Reply

    Jeff, you’re a clown. Thanks for the laughs! I need them today.
    Keep sending your NEW ARTICLES. And keep making mishaps! The one about forgetting the microphone is hilarious. Ha! ha! I am laughing for your bow gesture thou, not for the music.. Ho!
    You’re better than D. Carnegie on public speaking.

    There was a guy who was suppose to give an speech. He red the manuscript to a friend who was gifted with an excellent memory. This guy spoke before him at the podium and delivered his friend speech instead of his. True story!

    • Thanks Aida for joining in the converation – appreciate you!

      ~ Jeff

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