What if I make a mistake?!
Posted on 28th January 2023 at 09:31
It’ll be a disaster, what will people think of me?
Have you ever had these thoughts?
I’m sure a lot of us have – they are pretty normal right?
We want to do well, we’re conscientious, yes - we want to impress our boss, inspire our colleagues or win that pitch.
Of course, there are ways to mitigate this and practice is one of them.
Practice, practice and practice a bit more.
However, let’s explore for a minute, what do we mean by a mistake? Stumbling over a word or two, forgetting what you’re going to say for a moment, missing out on something you had planned to say or saying um several times could be considered mistakes.
I believe we need to rewind a little, what do we want from the presentation, pitch or talk we are giving? Does it really need to be perfect? If say you’re doing something which matters a lot, I do suggest you make time to craft it – practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Even so, mistakes can happen, because we are human, we are not a machine, and hey, even machines can go wrong!
When I was in a show at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer, I made a ‘mistake’ – I accidentally repeated a sentence. The show was five monologues and I was doing one of them. What’s more common in monologues is that someone skips a bit, but hey, my mistake was different!
Initially, I wasn’t happy about it as it was the only show which the writer, Mark, my partner came to see. In the other shows it didn’t happen of course! However, moving on from my first reaction, rather than beat myself up, I switched my focus.
Rather than beat ourselves up and feel ashamed I believe the most important thing to focus on is the 99% or so which went really well. And the audience may not have noticed anyway or if they did, there are unlikely to give any importance to it.
I often using the metaphor of driving a car, or riding a bike for that matter – drivers and cyclists do make mistakes. It’s easy to get in the wrong lane, or the wrong gear, and when that happens, we deal with it and carry on.
And you can do the same when you’re doing a talk. The audience want to feel safe in your hands, they are going to be very forgiving if you make a mistake, even if they do notice it. So, whatever goes ‘wrong’, remember you are in control, take a breath and carry on. If you want a mantra to use, “I’m in control” could be a good one. You can say it before your talk out loud or in your head, depending on the situation you’re in!
What an audience wants to feel is a connection with you, the perfectly imperfect human, so don’t sweat the small stuff. You may even want to embrace the odd mistake!
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Tagged as: mistake, connection, audience
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