Don’t Faint When You Flub a Presentation – Laugh at Yourself

No doubt presentation training will help you to improve your delivery when you’re in front of an audience. But you’re only human, so sometimes things can go wrong – very wrong.

If that ever happens, laughing at yourself can be the best medicine.

Turn Off Your Microphone

Unless you’re made of stone, you will be nervous before a presentation. We advise clients to use the restroom just before speaking but be sure to turn off their wireless microphones. One of our clients took the first piece of advice but forgot the second and 200 people heard him in the restroom.

When he came on stage, he made fun of himself by saying, “I guess you heard that my presentation already started.” People laughed and his gaffe turned into an icebreaker that allowed both him and the audience to relax and enjoy the rest of his talk.

The 10-Second Pause

A widely reported gaffe occurred during a Republican presidential debate. In case you missed it, here is candidate Rick Perry, in his now famous flub, forgetting the third government agency he would shut down if elected.

Governor Perry went on the David Letterman show the next evening making fun of his own gaffe. Many commentators felt this humanized the candidate and turned what could have been a catastrophe for his campaign into a positive.

Get the Audience on Your Side

If you’ve ever been at a presentation that goes wrong, you feel very uncomfortable and nervous for the speaker. You start anticipating the next flub instead of concentrating on the valuable content of his talk.

After a major presentation, a client called to tell us that she followed all of our advice when preparing for an important industry conference. However, she said that as she started up the steps to the stage, she fell off the top step and landed on her butt. Her high heels got caught in the cuff of her pants and down she went.

She later told me that she pretended that nothing had happened and delivered her talk. I can picture the audience holding their collective breath being unable to concentrate on what she was saying. Had she used a bit of humor such as “How did you like my grabber?” the audience would have relaxed and listened.

Should you make a mistake during a presentation, such as forgetting your key messages, don’t be afraid to lighten the mood and make a humorous comment. Put your audience – and yourself –  at ease.

Remember, your audience is really on your side. They came to hear what you have to say. They want you to succeed just as much as you do.

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