SCORE Small Business Blog

Leadership: Public Speaking Disasters

Mistakes Happen to the Best of Us

iStock_000005795644XSmallI’m pretty good in front of a group and don’t have trouble responding to spontaneous questions because I pride myself on being prepared – following all we are taught to do – build rapport with the audience, display enthusiasm, know what you want to say and practice practice practice.  BUT (and there always is a BUT), at an awards show I was not given the names of the recipients until on stage. Names  of folks from countries I had never heard of  in a language that, I was told was English, but I had serious doubts. I did my best, but still looked pretty illiterate.  What to do when you are faced with an audience that expects polish and poise and all you can do is smile and babble. I guess you smile and do your best.

The important point is that it happens to the best of us and all we can do is realize the world didn’t come to an end. Yes, many folks find public speaking difficult, but audiences are forgiving and with practice a little confidence soon builds into strong confidence. I have been in front of many audiences since then, but the memory of that event keeps me humble and when I am tempted not to practice, it brings on instant motivation. The big lesson I learned was not to be too hard on myself — and don’t do awards shows without knowing the names of the recipients!

What are your public speaking nightmare stories?  I know you have some.  We ALL have some.

Betty Otte, SCORE Orange County
View more posts by Betty

// |

Discussion (2) Comment

  1. I’m with you on this one! Names are a nightmare.

    My personal worst (if you see what I mean) was the first time my presentation was being simultaneously translated. I found people talking when I was talking quite off-putting and then, to make matters worse, the technical words didn’t get translated at all, but were simply given in English.

    That meant I couldn’t simply filter out the stream of words because ever couple of sentences or so, one or the other of the translators would slip into English for a few words and then back again to their native language followed (you guessed it) by the other one two seconds later.

    It took me a loooooong time to filter this out!


  2. Sue DavisVisitor

    I remember speaking into a microphone, hearing my voice, and getting so confused that I lost my train of thought. Awful and hard to recover from.

    I am now in Toastmasters, which I find to be an excellent way to learn public speaking.


Leave a Comment

More Blog Topics