We all have presentations that fail, myself included. It only becomes a problem if you fail to diagnose what went wrong and how to get better for your next presentation.
By far, the most common problem with most speeches that bomb is simply this: they were boring. The presenter packed in way too many data points, facts, numbers, complex charts. The result was nobody paid attention and no messages were communicated or remembered.
The second most common problem has nothing to do with a substance and everything to do with style. The presenter read the speech, or was flat or monotone or low energy. Or perhaps had no eye contact. Maybe they did all of these things wrong. In that case, no matter how good your messages, even when you have great stories illustrating your messages, your presentation will fall flat.
But sometimes there are other factors involving the failure of a presentation. For example, timing. You could deliver a great message with fantastic delivery skills and still fail. If you’re delivering your presentation at a major convention in Las Vegas at 8 AM and the night before, Taylor Swift was the entertainment for the conference, and no one went to bed before 3 AM, your presentation likely failed. if your audience doesn’t show up, or they are completely asleep, there is a little chance of success.
You’ll have to look at timing issues in any type of presentation you deliver. For example, yesterday I posted a YouTube short video that I thought was one of my best ones ever. But I posted it at 2:17 PM Eastern time. This was about 3 1/2 hours later than when I normally post my short form videos.
20 hours after posting the video, only 39 people had viewed the video. You can see it here for yourself.
Normally, each one of my short videos generates 1000 views or more.
When I saw how low the viewership was, I clicked on the video again to watch it to see if there were some fatal flaw in the message. I didn’t see any. When I saw how low the viewership was, I clicked on the video again to watch it to see if there were some fatal flaw in it. I didn’t see any. Next, I looked at the video to see if there were any problems with the sound or my delivery. I didn’t see any.
Only then did I check to see what time the video was released. There, I saw the 3 1/2 hour difference and concluded I had a timing problem. Turns out, my audience is just not interested in watching videos released at that time.
But the lesson can’t be learned if you don’t analyze a failure at every level. It’s human nature to just not think about failure or negative things, and to move on. The other mistake many people make is to think something like “oh YouTube shorts don’t work, they are a waste of time. I won’t bother with that anymore.“ No, that wasn’t the lesson.
The other problem many people face is, they’re just not getting enough data points to see trend lines. if you only give one speech a year and it doesn’t work, there’s no standard of comparison. If you’re only posting one video a month, you likely aren’t getting enough data to figure out what works with your audience and what doesn’t. Since I typically post at least a couple of videos a day, I’ve got data to help me figure out train lines to be measured against.
One way people try to learn from their mistakes is by practicing in a laboratory environment in front of a professional where there are no stakes involved. It’s then very easy to correct problems that relate to your style and your substance. If this could be helpful to you, you may want to check out our high stakes presenter coaching program.
Regardless, it’s essential for you to analyze every single speaking or presentation failure you have in the future. Not to knock yourself down or dwell on the negative, but to learn how to make your next presentation in any format a little better.
(Reminder, I will be Live on Youtube taking all your questions related to communication skills on Thursday, Oct 25, 2023 at 10:45 AM Eastern (New York Time) at https://www.youtube.com/mediatraining Please join me)
Book that’s engrossing me right now. Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet by Taylor Lorenz (Note: this is NOT an affiliate link, not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
I’m sometimes (fairly) accused of not giving enough attention to prominent women speakers and business executives in my case studies. Here’s my take on Sheryl Sandberg’s strengths as a speaker.
Stop trying to sound “professional!”
Want to project more leadership? Start by improving your speaking skills here.
Are you worried you repeat yourself too often when speaking? Take a look at what Martin Luther King Jr did.
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