Mistakes That Sell Speeches

Why are most people deathly afraid of giving a presentation? The answer usually revolves around the humiliation of making a mistake. It’s all those nightmares about the moment we lose credibility, the moment we mix up the order of points, draw a blank or mispronounce multi-syllabic word—even after numerous tries. In those nightmares, hordes of audiences laugh, sneer, tune out and even exit as we, the presenters, leave the lectern certain our career is over.

In reality, that disastrous moment, that very moment, could result in triumph.

Don’t believe a mistake can take an average presentation and turn it into a hit? It all depends on you, the speaker. When you get upset, your audience will get upset with you. As a result, they stop listening to what you’re saying, and concentrate on hoping you’re going to live through until the end.

Instead of suffering a “slow death,” use humor and confidence to save your presentation, and earn a loud round of applause. For instance, to turn the negative into a positive:

  • Can’t find your next note? Take a brief pause. If that pauses lasts longer than “brief” would cover, try joking with the audience. Suggest they talk among themselves, or guarantee lightly that “this is a point worth waiting for.” It all depends on your sense of humor.
  • Tongue tied? Can’t get a multiple syllabic word straight? During a Golden Globes awards show Andrew Garfield could not say “inspiringly written”? So he kept at it, kept laughing, kept the audience laughing, and finally got through it. Then he repeated it, with emphasis! The result? Strong applause and positive feelings about a guy who has a sense of humor—and confidence.
  • Drawing a blank in the middle of the sentence? Instead of feeling humiliated, perhaps you tell someone in the first row you’re giving a quiz (with a wink). “What was the last thing I said?”

Any humor creates a relationship with the audience, encourages a sense of fun, and increases attention span – even on dry subjects. Instead of dreading the next “mistake,” welcome it as an opportunity to bond with your audience.

For more clues on improving your communications skills, contact us.

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