How To Redeem Yourself After a Really Bad Presentation


So, it happened.  You delivered a really, really bad presentation.  Your audience was not impressed.  In fact, some people shut down, some were offended, and some rejected your ideas completely.

No one is perfect.  We all have bad days.  We have busy lives, family problems, health issues, and a whole host of other excuses.

That being said, the responsibility for the presentation fail remains firmly on the presenter.  The presentation failed because the four steps for proper presentation either didn’t happen or didn’t align.  The four presentation basics include 1) preparing, brainstorming, and analyzing the audience, 2) developing strong speech content, 3) designing visual presentation that matches the message, and 4) practicing natural and authentic delivery.  If you’ve had a presentation fail, one or more of these components were missing.

Now, you are allowed one presentation fail, but you are only allowed one.  After that, you’re just being lazy and disrespectful to your audience.

For example, today was speech day in Professional Communication and Presentation.  Each student was asked to analyze a TED Talk from  They had one week to develop their presentations, and each student had class time to work.  Still, a couple of students were unprepared.  Some said, “I’m just not ready to present today.”  Presentation fail.  A couple of students went to the front of the room and presented without reading a single line of the instructions sheet.  Presentation fail.  A couple of students didn’t rehearse their delivery and accidentally said inappropriate, offensive things in front of the class.  Presentation fail.

All in all, today was a really, really bad day for presentation.

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So how can you redeem yourself after a really bad presentation?  3 steps will ensure your next presentation is a success:

First, you must realize that the bad presentation was 100%, entirely your fault.  We have a difficult time blaming ourselves for our failures.  We like to blame presentation fails on the audience, on the timing, on our personal lives.  Unfortunately, those excuses will only get you farther away from delivering a great presentation.

Second, you must spend a lot more time preparing, analyzing your audience, developing your content, and practicing.  Nancy Duarte says that a good speech requires 36-90 hours of hard work.  Put in the time, and the results will be positive.

Third, you must not let fear paralyze you.  We often dwell on our failures instead of using them as learning experiences to move forward successfully.  A presentation fail is a positive thing: you know never, ever, ever to do that again!  Once you’ve hit that presentation low, you have nowhere to go but up.  Don’t ever let your public speaking phobia keep you away from presentations.  If you’re embarrassed about your bad presentation, you better suck it up and keep moving forward!  Beverly Sills says it best: “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.”  Try again!  And this time, learn and apply those Presentation Basics.


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