One of the things most feared by the people I teach is losing their train of thought mid-talk: forgetting the next part of the presentation or finding that a crucial word has simply evaporated.
The key to dealing with this is (a) not to be wedded to a particular form of words in the first place and to be comfortable with the fact that the talk comes out slightly differently each time; (b) if there are names, dates, figures etc which are pivotal to your content and if it’s possible to carry notes, write them down; (c) adopt a sufficiently conversational style of delivery so that if you stumble or hesitate, it won’t stand out like a sore thumb; (d) make the content the star of the show rather than your performance. Focus on what you are saying rather than how you’re delivering it, and (e) in rehearsal, experience the feeling of ‘losing it’ and having to carry on, as if it’s a live event. Every time you recover and stagger through the crisis, you will build a reserve of confidence and you will begin to fear it less.
Here’s a fabulous talk by Simon Sinek in which, at around 0745 minutes in, he clearly loses his train of thought. Watch how he recovers and moves on.
The key here is that he is so passionate about the content, so focused on the substance (as are we in the audience), that it is of no consequence at all – to him or those watching.