Buddies Online Toastmasters Club

Get Your “Rescue Phrase” Ready!

“The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public.” — George Jessel

Have you ever had a “mind went blank” moment during your speech? Or do you have the fear that moment might happen to you one day? You are not alone!

In fact, it happens to everybody, including experienced professional speakers. Me? Oh yes, a big time. Once I forgot my name. MY NAME! (not to mention I was speaking in my first language. Waaa!)

The good news is that there are techniques to recover from the awkward moment. It could also ease your fear. I learned it the hard way, so you don’t have to — I’ll share one of them.

That is… Prepare your “rescue phrase”. You use it when your brain decided to stop during the speech.

Your Rescue Phrase Sample

Something like…:

  • “Where was I? I’m sure I’m not the only human who experiences something like this”
  • “Don’t you hate it when something this happens? Let me check my note…”

With these phrases, your audience’s mind goes “Oh, yeah, I have the same experience!” “Yes, yes, I hate it! “Oh boy, I fear the moment!” So you gain the time to recover, relax your panicking mind while their attention goes themselves.

You can make it to even funny ones like below:

  • “OK, my next sentence went somewhere else, but I’m glad you guys are still here!”
  • “Oops, where was I… (Bring out your phone) ‘Siri, tell me where I was’ (or ‘Okay Google, where was I…’) Oh, my smartphone is not smart enough, ugrr!”

In this way, your audience can laugh with you. Yes, “with you,” not “at you”.

I’m sure you already sensed the point, and you are right! The point is to use the awkward moment as a self-deprecating joke; laugh at your “oops” moment. If you can laugh at yourself, your audience can join you. If you can laugh together, it’s always a good time!

“Mind goes blank moment” happens to everybody. Scary, but true. When it happens, quickly use your rescue phrase, and then, go back to your speech. It’s not about what happens to you, it’s about how you handle it. You’ve got this.

Now It’s Your Turn:

Your rescue phrase has to come out from your mouth with a knee-jerk reaction, so you need to come up with something easy for you to say.  Find your phrase (or copy one of the sentences above), tweak it, and practice it until the words become your buddy.


Prepare your “rescue phrase”, and let it be your buddy. Use it when your mind went blank, have a good laugh with your audience and go back to your speech. You’ll be great!

Please note: Take the only advice that empowers you, that helps make your speech better. Think of me is your grocery store. I offer a lot, but you have the shopping basket/cart. It’s your speech; it’s your choice.

Misako Yoke, Certified World Class Speaking Coach

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