Last week I posted part 1 of bouncing back from a presentation mishap, where I threw up what I thought was a softball question and heard only crickets. Well, as I mentioned in that post, there was more...
The organizer wanted me to fill a time block about a half hour longer than this particular presentation normally takes, so I added in some new content and was confident I'd hit my timing no problem. I was even pretty excited about the new content because it revolved around a personal story about a friend of mine, and stories are powerful presentation tools.
However, the story didn't work. At least, it was falling on mostly deaf ears to this audience. It was a story that had a web 2.0 theme to it and the audience just wasn't technically savvy enough to really follow the point I was trying to make. Many audience members couldn't see the forest for the trees and missed the point. My fault, completely.
I could have used a simpler method to tell my story and make my point, but unfortunately I didn't, and the audience let me know...immediately. I always tell my audience that I accept questions at ANY time during my presentation. There's no such thing as interrupting me with a question (unless you actually interrupt me). I love opend and honest conversation during a presentation, since presentations themselves are conversations. So as soon as a few of the audience members got lost, they started raising their hands. I was able to reel the discussion back on track, however once we were all on the same page I was already at least 10 minutes behind where I wanted to be.
I still finished in time without skipping through slides or not giving them their due diligence, but I had much less time for open Q&A than I would have liked. I felt as though I had let them down, but while it technically was in my hands, it really wasn't. Just like I couldn't beat myself up for my mishap from part 1, I couldn't beat myself up for this mishap either. I took all the feedback to heart and altered my presentation accordingly. All I can do is try my best to make sure it never happens again.
Honesty is crucial. Not just in presenting, or business. It's crucial in life, period. You probably won't see a lot of presentation designers and trainers talk so openly about their mishaps, but that's only because they're hiding them. It happens to all of us. I write posts like these because I know they can help you, and that's all that matters to me.
I fell into presentation design because I love marketing. Scott Stratten is one of my favorite marketers, or should I say "UnMarketers", and he devotes a good portion of his recent book outlining all the mistakes he made in social media. I was so thankful he did because I made some of those mistakes too. It made me feel better that I not only wasn't the only one, but someone who I highly respect in the social media space made the same mistakes.
I used to have a poster in my room of Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player to ever live. It read as follows:
As long as you learn from your mistakes, making that mistake is never a bad thing.