February 25, 2013

How gracefully do you recover from a mishap?



There are a lot of things inexperienced speakers dwell on before a presentation, most of them negative:

What if I lose my place?

What if I forget what I was going to say?

What if I ask a question and no one responds?

Speakers get all worried and nervous and stressed out thinking one of these things might happen, to the detriment of their preparation.

However, we rarely picture ourselves tripping and falling on the way to the stage; even the most Negative Nelly doesn't really think THAT would happen.

But what if it does, like when Jennifer Lawrence fell on her way to accept her Oscar for Best Actress last night?

Was it the end of the world? Will she never get another acting job? Has she lost all respect and admiration?

Of course not.

Will people remember that she fell? For a while. Was she embarrassed? Of course.

But guess what: Life goes on.

She started out with some self-deprecating humor: "You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell, and that's really embarrassing, but thank you," and then went on to give a brief and gracious acceptance speech.

If Jennifer Lawrence can fall in an evening gown in front of millions of television viewers around the world, then get up and go on with her speech, so can you.

Even if "falling down" just means you forgot your place and you had to look at your notes for two seconds.

Audiences are forgiving. They want you to do well. If you mess up, they think "I hate when that happens." Or, "Glad that wasn't me." Or, "Wow, she must be embarrassed but she handled it like a pro."

And then they reset their brains for the rest of your presentation.

All kinds of distracting and embarrassing things happen during presentations every day, and we survive. So will you!

Last summer, I fell down in public. Here's my story:

2 comments. Please add yours! :

maniactive said...

Perfect is boring. Falling was the best thing Jennifer Lawrence could have done. Being human is interesting.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Absolutely! And then she even erased the memory of the fall with her excellent post-award interviews! She nailed that whole thing.

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