July 30, 2007

Are you too hard on yourself?

I am. I admit it. I try not to let things get to me, but I have really high expectations for myself and when I don't meet them, I can be a tough boss.

Today I gave a presentation where I was just "off." Do you know what I mean? I was scattered, I forgot parts of the presentation, including some great interactive stuff, and - worst of all - I actually said, "And that's it" at the end. We're talking Public Speaking 101 here. But something just wasn't working for me today and I couldn't get my act together. I just felt lost.

Am I aggravated? Yes. Am I going to dwell on this? Yes, but only for a little while. ;-)

The important thing is to figure out where I went wrong, and then make sure to fix it next time. And then - move on. Because dwelling on mistakes doesn't make you a better speaker, only a more neurotic one.

Where I think I went wrong: I added some new material that I don't normally talk about, and because I didn't practice the new material enough, it threw me off. That's a big part of it. Don't ask me why I said "And that's it" at the end, because I honestly don't know. That might be the worst thing I've done in a presentation in five years! I'm going to analyze my recording (this is why you record or videotape yourselves, peeps) and think about how I will prepare better and fix these problems next time.

This wasn't my worst presentation ever, and it wasn't my best. That's okay - nobody's perfect. So I won't beat myself up, and please don't beat yourself up. Life's too short to dwell on the negative. I'll think about what went right today and remember to do more of that next time, too.

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3 comments. Please add yours! :

Anonymous said...

People don't expect much of the mandated presentations I give - I'm not a professional speaker like you are. I can only imagine the pressure you must put on yourself.

My presentation yesterday, since you were wondering, was alright. There were some technical difficulties, and I had to improvise.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the camera to test and rate my own performance, but I know there were several, distinct areas I could improve.

I did get a few laughs and was able to keep the audience, for the most part, engaged. So I'll focus on that and not the fact that I, too, said, "And that's all I have to say about [my subject]. Any questions?"

Thank you for the encouragement. :)

Anonymous said...

So would you say it helps to keep speaking so not to get rusty, to continue to learn how to improve?

I was proud of my 16 year old. He is fearless, first to volunteer to get up in front of a crowd.

He spoke at church and about every other word was "and stuff". He didn't want to practice or anything else ahead of time. So the next time I suggested that he leave the "and Stuff" out. To my delight, not even once did he use the phrase.

I've also found that we are often our own worst critiques as we work at fine tuning our talents. Others think we've done a great job and we are saying but I could have done better on this point.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Congratulations on your presentation, Cam! I'm sure it was great. We are so much more aware of our own mistakes than our audience ever is. Yes, definitely focus on what went well, and be realistic about the mistakes. It's all you can do without driving yourself crazy.

Heidi, your son sounds like a quick study! It's not easy to drop all fillers from one speech to the next!

It's so important to keep speaking; we only get better when we face challenges. If it's always easy, we don't really learn from the experience.

But it's also important to practice beforehand, because good preparation allows a presentation to just flow without much conscious thought of the content.

I'm already laughing at my ridiculous closing from yesterday. I was most upset about it because I had been unhappy with my closing and had really worked to come up with a better one. And then I just ruined it.

But again, it's all part of preparation, and I know I didn't practice that new ending enough. It's been a really long time - years and years - since I felt bad about a presentation, so I was probably due. Better next time!

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