Recovering Your Mojo After a Flop

Although not all speakers will admit it, most have bombed at some point or another. If you have ever had a rough presentation I want you to know that you are not alone.

A “flop” occurs for a myriad of reasons – you’re in front of the wrong audience at the wrong time, you haven’t prepared properly, you missed a key piece of company information, there’s a heckler, the audience is drunk or tired or you aren’t at your physical best.

Regardless of why it occurs, there are several ways to prevent it from turning into a string of bad performances.

  1. Get Back on the Horse: Getting out to speak again quickly is important, since the longer you go on wallowing in your failure, the more it will take to recover.
  2. Make it Right: Joe Calloway says this…. “Whenever I disappoint or mis-communicate with a client in any way, my policy is to apply so much solution to the problem that it overwhelms and extinguishes it. That’s step one to pick me up. In the situation where I really bombed, I asked the client what solution would make him feel better: a refund of the entire fee, or a free presentation. He jumped on the free presentation and ended up being a career-long supporter of mine”.
  3. Remove your Ego: Sometimes our egos get caught up in being rated the #1 speaker of the conference or having everyone love us. But the truth is, we aren’t there for ourselves, we’re there for the audience. By removing your ego from the equation and focusing on them, you’ll recover quicker from a flop.
    Sometimes our ego gets caught up in being rated the #1 speaker of the conference or having everyone love us.  [Tweet “Our egos get caught up in being rated #1 speaker of the conference or everyone loving us. @janeatkinson”]
  4. Create a Mantra: By repeating a few kind and encouraging words to yourself before you go on, you’ll be framing your mind for success. For instance, “I am confident and energized, I am here to serve this audience with the best of my expertise”.
  5. Breathe: I know this might sound basic, but Olympian Vince Poscente says that when you take long deep breaths you are sending oxygen to the brain which will allow you to think clearly on your feet. In the case of a heckler, or some wild emergency, this is essential for a quick response.
  6. Massage your Material: You might consider throwing out your entire speech after a bomb, but I encourage you to massage the material instead. On your next outing, keep 70% of your tried and true material so that you can gain some confidence, then throw in 30% new content to give your talk a face lift.

Please share your flop stories (including what you did to recover) below in the comments. I know that others will appreciate your courage to share.

See you soon wealthy speakers!

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  • Absolutely GOLDEN tips Jane. I am saving this blog to reference back to. THANK YOU!

  • Suzannah Baum

    I once started a presentation with a bit of a ‘racy’ (and funny) opening that had worked REALLY well with one audience (who I happened to be very familiar with, knew several people in the room). I then tried it with a new group, filled with people I did NOT know, and it didn’t go over well. I was met with complete radio silence. Very awkward. But I had 90 minutes left to go, so I just had to pick it up and move on. I recovered — and they were forgiving — but it taught me a great lesson in better researching and understanding my audience when crafting an opening.

    • speakerlauncher

      And learning how to handle “crickets” is another one to add to the list! One quick line of humor could be up your sleeve something like “that joke killed at the Piggly Wiggly”.