Presentations – Missing the Mark (and How to Recover)
Sometimes you have it.
And sometimes you don’t.
There will be some failures, whether you present to your team, executives, or customers. There will be days when you walk out of the presentation, and every part of your body sinks. Sometimes, the pain is much earlier (during the presentation) or much later in the form of harsh feedback (well after the presentation).
How do you handle that feeling? How do you take feedback – whether your own or from others?
The first rule of the fright club is to listen to feedback.
If your feedback comes from someone with an agenda, feel free to put that qualifier into the mix. But if your feedback comes from someone who cares or even yourself – the first step is to listen. And if it’s yourself and you are always your harshest critic, feel free to put that qualifier in the mix, too. Qualifiers are necessary to help filter emotions from facts, and if someone is giving you information to keep you down (even if that someone is you), then you owe it to yourself to be aware of that.
Now, some walk out of every presentation with that sinking feeling – and that’s a different issue. I’m talking to those who usually present well; they typically can read the room, adjust, and are not overwhelmed with a sinking feeling afterward. I’m talking about the rare times when you know your presentation kinda’ sucked.
Conversely, you may present and know that your message and content are landing with your audience. There is no better feeling than knowing that your audience is experiencing ‘light-bulb’ moments. That is addictive, and missing the mark in a presentation can stick with you.
After listening to the feedback, the next step is to get back and present again – as fast as you can. I’ve had some horrible presentations. I have had presentations on auto-present mode – which is not a feature I was even aware of. It exists, and every slide would change at the 10-second mark regardless of where I was in the presentation. An epic failure—catastrophic even. That one stung because the content was fantastic.
After that epic failure, I learned about this feature and how not to use it again (accidentally – my mistake). And then, I presented new content as fast as I could. Failing is part of learning. If you let one moment take you down, you are not allowing yourself to improve. There is no better feeling than succeeding where you may have tripped up in the past.
References and Resources
I’ll leave with less dignity than I came up with – Richard Ayoade (at the BAFTAs)