When Presentations Don’t Go As Planned

I recently gave a talk that didn’t go as well as planned.

Humor fell flat. New elements didn’t engage the audience in (what I consider) a meaningful way. Nerves got the best of me.

As I drove home this ticker tape ran through my mind:

“That was awful”

“What were you thinking?”

“You’ll never speak again.”

Have you ever had a presentation or meeting that didn’t go as planned?

The Mistakes

Even though I coach leaders on their communication and presentation skills, I’m not immune to mistakes and mishaps. I’m in the game, too, learning, growing and evolving. (It’s why I love my work and know that it’s the right work for me.)

So, I kept asking myself, “Why did I allow this to happen?”

Here is what I came up with:

First, I let someone else tell me what’s best for me

Originally, I planned to open with light movement and breathing activities. Something I’ve done hundreds of times with great success. When I shared this with my public speaking coach, she cautioned me away from that and I let her words get into my head. Instead of engaging people right away, the presentation fell flat.

Second, I didn’t engage in the right sales conversation

I often tell my clients, “There is nothing worse than speaking in front of an audience acting in a way that is not authentic to you.” It’s time to revisit that advice for myself. See, for some reason I thought I needed to act a certain way so explaining what they would get with a “Stacey Shipman” experience didn’t happen.

Finally, I didn’t create the right environment

Speaking is more than showing up and, well, speaking. The room set up, environment, microphones, location of windows, food service, timing, and other logistical details matter. And I wasn’t clear enough, nor did I ask enough questions, to ensure that the room was set up in the best way for this presentation.

What Did I Learn?

A ton of valuable information and insights. Including…

Promising to stay true to myself and my strengths

Coaches are great for helping clarify thoughts and ideas, shifting beliefs, and offering tools and resources. However, coaches aren’t experts in us as individuals. Deep down you (and I) know our strengths and we need to play to them every time.

How can you stay true to who you are and the unique strengths you bring to the stage or table?

Engaging in more clear and open sales conversations

Prospects may not want what I offer and that is OK. See above, “Stay true to self.”

How can you engage in more open and clear conversations about expectations – whether selling an idea internally or a service to customers?

Create the Right Environment

Whether you get paid to speak professionally or give presentations to clients and stakeholders as part of your job, the environment matters. Often people don’t know how to set up a meeting room or that they even have an option to shake things up. You do.

Do you have an environment that allows you to grow and do your best work?

The Bottom Line

A client recently told me, “What I loved about your coaching is that you gave me permission to try new things and make mistakes.” We learn by doing. And sometimes along the way mistakes happen. Learn from them and pick yourself up when you fall. Use the lessons to ensure that the next presentation goes as planned.

Your voice matters. Keep shining.

Talk to me!

  1. Have you ever had a presentation fall flat?
  2. What happened?
  3. How did you bounce back?

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


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