August 9, 2007

Who cares if you mess up?



I talk about this a lot, but it really bears repeating: if you make a mistake in your presentation, so what?

Should you stand there, mentally berating yourself, getting more and more flustered and sweaty, or should you acknowledge the mistake and move on? I hope you do the latter, because the former only leads to disaster.

Believe it or not, your audience doesn't notice 99% of what goes wrong in your presentation. Only a really egregious mistake will make it into their consciousness, and then it's up to you to handle it well and not make a big deal out of it.

Everyone makes mistakes and your audience knows that. In fact, when you make a mistake, it humanizes you and makes you seem more like a person the audience can relate to.

In my presentations, I use an analogy of an athlete falling down in the middle of a game. Does the athlete sit there on the court, banging her forehead on the floor, yelling at herself for how stupid she was to fall? No, she gets up as quickly as possible and keeps playing. The game depends on her and she can't win if she's sitting on the ground.

Jason Kotecki shared a similar story yesterday over at Escape Adulthood, about Paralympic athlete Bonnie St. John.

The difference between you and another speaker may well be the difference between how you each handle adversity. Do you want to be the one remembered for falling apart when your PowerPoint died, or do you want to be the one remembered for laughing at the quirks of technology and continuing on with your presentation?

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1 comments. Please add yours! :

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
Dr. Seuss

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