Most of us have had a presentation that did not go as well as we expected. The audience was not engaged, they gave us negative feedback on the evaluation form or the conference organiser lets us know that it was not what they wanted and they probably won’t need our services again.
So what do we do when our presentation bombs. Well we have all heard the old saying that “there are no mistakes in life, just lessons.” We have also been told that a failed presentation is an opportunity for us to change, learn and improve.
This is supported by Dr Susan Jeffers who in her bestselling book, Feel The Fearand Do it Anyway, believes in no lose decision making and no lose outcomes. Regardless of the outcome of your presentation, Susan would argue that there are brilliant lessons and nuggets of information to be gained from that journey. Marshal Goldsmith, one of the world’s top executive coaches, describes failure as a great teacher and he encourages us to learn and adapt fast from these failures.
While I acknowledge that this attitude of, “no mistakes, just lessons”, is a valuable way of looking at things, the most important thing is what we do about it. What is the next step that you take as a result of the feedback?
If our attitude is that I will just do better next time, we are likely to repeat the problem. If we just say, “oh well, I bombed and I will learn from it,” and we don’t take the next step of truly learning from it, then we are likely to make the same mistake again.
We need to be clear on what was it that we specifically learnt and how can we best use this knowledge in a constructive and positive way to improve. What was it that made our presentation unsuccessful? This is the obvious step of learning and self-improvement from the feedback that we have received. The most important thing from this experience is that we learn from it. What was it that made the presentation unsuccessful?
So bombing a presentation, while not ideal, is not the end of the world. What matters most is what we learnt from the experience and what are we going to do about it so that next time we present we are more successful.