So, occasionally you may slip up.
The very best in the business do.
I was reminded of this yesterday while working with one of my clients as she asked, “what if I make a mistake?”
Most speakers focus on the positives before a presentation. You know, visualizing the end of the preso and the audience clapping and smiling, feeling the relief of having completed the presentation, remembering all the words without making a mistake, getting through with no technical problems, everything coming together perfectly.
As much as you may be nervous, very rarely do you imagine yourself tripping on the way to the stage nor do you focus on getting stuck, loosing your place and the flow or forgetting your words altogether. You may talk about the “what if” situation, but very rarely do you imagine it actually happening or rarely do you stay focused on the negative.
So what if something does go wrong? Will you be embarrassed? Yes, or course. Will the embarrassment last? No. It will pass. Every day all over the world speakers make mistakes and they survive to give another presentation.
It is about how you pick yourself up, physically or mentally that really matters in these situations, and, that you realise that life WILL go on. You will not be the first or last to make a mistake in front of a crowd, nor will you loose the respect of your audience. The audience will be there for you. They will want you to go on.
If it is something that you know the audience have noticed, mention it. Make light of it. Have a laugh at yourself. I call it mentioning the elephant in the room. When it is something obvious the very best thing to move you on is to mention exactly what happened. We’ve all seen mishaps on television where people (in front of audiences of millions) have slipped on steps or misplaced their footing and stumbled. By mentioning the obvious the audience will be relieved that you have recovered yourself and moved on elegantly. They will have sympathy for you, and feel relief that you were able to go on. Most likely they will be glad it is not them in your shoes. Audiences really do want you to do well and are forgiving.
Next time something happens that you wish hadn’t – take a moment to compose yourself. Breath. Take a sip or water. Gather your thoughts. Make a comment and smile or laugh at yourself, and continue. Your audience will be there for you.