So you made a mistake during your presentation. Even if the rest of the presentation goes great, it’s the mistakes that get burned into our brain.
Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but how to you get over a mistake when the memory of it makes you want to hide with shame? It’s important to figure this out, because no matter how great a presenter you are, mistakes will happen. We`re digging into this important strategy thanks to a questions sent in by Sonja:
Help! I really screwed up my last presentation. I completely skipped over one of my points, and totally flubbed my answer to what should have been an easy question from one of the people there. I’m completely embarrassed and feel like an idiot. What advice do you have for helping me get over these mistakes? They’re all I can think about.
Much love, Sonja
Watch the video below for my full answer (You can click here to watch it over on YouTube, or scroll down to read the transcript):
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And how it’s your turn – what’s the biggest mistake you ever made in a presentation? Be brave and share it in the comments down below.
Sonja, thanks for asking this question, because It’s something many of us struggle with – I still struggle with this on a regular basis! It’s a simple fact of life – we all screw up. No presentation is 100% perfect, and part of becoming a confident speaker is learning how to deal with mistakes and not let them slow you down.
Here’s something critical to understand: our mistakes are usually WAY bigger in our minds than they are in the minds of our audience. Sonja, I know it might seem to you like skipping over that point or screwing up that answer was a huge deal, but for the most part the audience doesn’t notice mistakes like that unless you point them out for them.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned when I was in dance was that when I was dancing solo, the audience didn’t know the choreography. If I messed up a step, they’d never know. As long as I carried on as though nothing went wrong, the performance looked seamless.
The same goes for a lot of those slips and trips we make in our presentations – the audience doesn’t have a script in front of them. They don’t know exactly what you planned on speaking about, and probably won’t notice that you missed one of your points. This also applies when you mess up an answer. They know that you’re coming up with the answer on the spot, and most probably won’t remember an awkward moment or poor phrasing unless you draw their attention to it.
I know it can be hard to stop those mistakes from blowing out of proportion in your head. So here’s a strategy I personally use to help bring me back to a more reasonable mindset after a less-than-perfect performance.
I take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. One column I title “Stuff I did wrong” and I list everything I think I might have done wrong – anything from being underprepared to telling a lousy joke to forgetting a point to accidentally flinging my remote presenter across the room. Then I call the other column “Evidence to the Contrary”, and in this column I write down how the audience was responding and behaving during and after my talk – things like “laughed at my joke” or “asked lots of questions” or “came to talk to me afterwards” or “asked for my business card.”
Then I ask myself “would the audience have acted this way if I screwed up as badly as I think I did?”
You see, what matters most about your presentation is what your audience felt about it. Would they have spoken to you after your talk if you seemed like an idiot? Would the have gotten your business card or gave you good reviews if they felt you couldn’t answer their questions? Would they have sat through your whole presentation if they thought it was boring or useless? Probably not! By focusing on your audience’s behavior towards you, you can get a more objective view of how your presentation really went. This isn’t to say that you didn’t make some mistakes – we all do – but it helps you put those mistakes into better perspective instead of letting your inner critic use them like a baseball bat to beat you up with.
Mistakes during presentations are often much more minor than they feel, and audiences usually don’t notice them as much as we think they do. This exercise will help you shrink your perception of those slip ups down to size so you can get back on your game and start working on your next presentation.
I hope this helps you rest a little more easily tonight, Sonja.