I came across a wonderful quote a couple of years ago.
“You can try to pick up the pieces or you can leave them on the floor and move the____ on.”
Be it in relationships, business or after you’ve bombed the heck out of a crucial presentation, the only thing you have under your immediate control is your ability to determine how you’re going to feel about it. You can try to reconstruct everything in your head and feel miserable or you can look back on the other times you’ve made a mistake and realize that things never really do turn out as bad as you think.
Here are 3 ways I immediately get over the misery of a poor presentation.
1. “It’s done man. You can’t un-kill the moment.” I actually say this to myself over and over again until I believe it. You know as well as I do how bloody hard this is. But you really only have two options; 1. Regret or 2. Anything else to block out the regret. An idle mind is the devil’s playground. I absolutely do not allow myself to let regret creep in there. By saying it out aloud, I willfully block out the “What if’s” and more importantly, I block out any knee-jerk solutions until a good chunk of time has passed. Any attempt to remedy the situation while being tossed about in a whirlwind of emotions is not likely going to end well. If I gave a crappy presentation and then try to fix things with the audience, I’m just making it worst. It’s like when you pulled that full-gainer in the snowy parking lot. Whatever you do to salvage your dignity is not fooling anybody. You fell. You can’t un-fall. Get up. Brush yourself off and hope that people only saw the fall and not the massive rip in your pants.
2. Don’t even try to figure out what the audience is thinking. This is diametrically opposite of what I teach when planning presentations. If you bombed the delivery, your audience could be thinking a hundred different things about you. It could range from sympathy to outright contempt. Trying to figure out which person hates you least will drive you crazy. Here’s the breakdown from experience:
If you bombed because you were unprepared, the audience will think you’re an idiot and you’ve wasted their time. They will hate you.
If you bombed because of any other reason, the audience will likely not even be aware of when it all came apart. They will leave not knowing what the heck happened. But they won’t hate you.
If you’re about to bomb because of technical difficulties, two things may happen. a) Your audience sympathizes or b) Your audience thinks you’re a superhero because just as things were about to go bad, you pound your chest and proclaim “Screw the slides. I’m doing this slide-less” This is why I always advise creating the message first and only using slides where necessary to support a point. If you build your talk around Power Point, you’re at the mercy of your equipment. If you build the message first, you don’t need the slides.
3. Call a buddy. Because dude, you’re human. Anybody else who’s human has made mistakes before. Even if you know what he’s going to say, it’s still nice to hear “Hey bro, s__t happens.”