November 11, 2011

Prepare. And then let go.

You started creating your presentation a month in advance. You revised, practiced, revised some more. Now the day is here, and you still fear that something will go wrong.

Imagine what it's like for the cast of Saturday Night Live! Every week they write, rehearse and deliver an entirely new show. Sketches are written and thrown out. Others make it to rehearsal and still get thrown out. Cast members and guest hosts are still putting the finishing touches on the show right up until the show goes live.

Have you ever seen anyone make a mistake on Saturday Night Live? Of course! Have you ever seen someone's mustache fall off? Have you ever seen a cast member struggling to hold back laughter? Of course! Because nobody's perfect, and the actors are doing their best to deliver a complete show with relatively little rehearsal time. Lorne Michaels, creator and product of SNL, has been quoted saying this:

"We don't go on because we're ready, we go on because it's 11:30."

You can practice your behind off, but eventually you have to go live. Understand and accept the fact that everything won't always go as you planned it, and don't let a couple of stumbles and blunders throw you off. Acknowledge that, no matter how prepared you are, there still might be mistakes and glitches, and allow yourself to find the humor in the situation.

Here's a great example of how someone rolled with a big glitch, in his second presentation ever, at a big-time conference. Watch Pat Flynn's double take below, as he discovers that the font he used in his slides was not compatible with the conference-supplied computer. You can read his blog post about the incident here.

Determine whether there's something you could have done differently to prevent the mistake (in this case, Pat learned a valuable lesson about fonts in slideshows). If you can fix it for next time, do so. If you can't, and it was a fluke that will probably never be repeated, then chalk it up to a weird experience and move on.

Prepare. And then let go.

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