Last week Chris Chapman and I did a presentation in Waterloo at the PMI-CTT Annual Symposium. For the past 5 years I have done numerous presentations at conferences and other professional events each year. Things have always gone well (although I’ve looked back at some of my earliest presentations and I’ve come a long way). My reviews have always been good, and doing this work brings me a great deal of fulfillment.
After the presentation in Waterloo I think Chris described it best when he said “it’s as if we farted and they were only tolerating us to be polite”. I know some great and experienced speakers who have a presentation fall on it’s face. Johanna Rothman blogged about it. So did Jason Little. But this was different as now it happened to me! How could this happen?!?!
When I drove away from the venue I was thinking “man we sucked”! What on earth happened? I’ve been fortunate in five years of public speaking to not have such a complete flop. Was it the audience … maybe they weren’t sophisticated enough? Was it the conference … was the environment just not ready for this message? Was it the mood in the room where we didn’t set things up right?
I’d ask you to think about this story. How would it serve us if we operated from a position of shame, blame or justification? I always believe “the show must go on”, so we could even live in a state of obligation but to what end? The above reactions first of all prove we’re human but living in those states would mean our next experiences would likely smell equally as bad.
The good news is we are choosing to not operate in such fashions. Chris and I are working on changing the presentation. We know what we want to change and we look forward to rocking the place the next time!
There’s little comfort in having such a failure when you know other much smarter people have paved this pathway for us. We are going to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and go out there and do it better the next time. As humans we learn faster when we fail. Our failures only make us stronger!
When you’ve experienced a failure anywhere in your life, and you find yourself upset and churning about because of it … stop! Take a step back from the situation and look to see how you’re responding. Are you:
- Blaming something/someone?
- Justifying the failure due to some circumstance out of your control?
- Sitting in shame, perhaps ready to quit trying?
- Trying to move forward out of an obligation of some sort?
If you can see yourself in one of these states … congratulations! You have taken the first step to a better outcome as you are at least aware. Now move yourself into a state of responsibility and take charge!
What will you do with your failures?