How to Use Speaking Errors to Go From Good to Great
What do you do when you make a big mistake when you are speaking? Do you tuck your tail between your legs and try to run away from it, and hope nobody notices?
What is the likelihood that you’re going to go undetected?
A piece of advice from one of my speaking mentors encouraged me to not only admit my mistakes as quickly as possible, but turn those into a memorable message.
Just a few days ago, I created a marketing video for an organization to which I’ll be giving the keynote address at the end of September. They loved the idea of the marketing video.
Due to the recommendation of, Darren LaCroix, I visited this organization’s website. I included all of the key ideas that I could in this brief, two minute video.
The video looked pretty good – for an amateur. I sent an email with the link to the video to the event organizer. I was positively expectant about what she was going to say after she watched the video.
Later that day, I received a voice mail message from her. It started off exactly how I expected. She said, “Michael, loved the video.” I thought, “Of course you did.” She said, “I particularly like your story, because it supports the message you’re going to be conveying to the group.” I thought, “Naturally.”
The message continued. “There is one problem though.”
“You put the wrong web address for people to register for the event.”
My first thought? ”I did not!”
I rewound the message, Played it again. Despite my irrational hope that the message would magically change, it didn’t.
I thought, “How could you be so dumb to not verify the website?”
I picked up the phone, dialed Megan’s number and said, “Megan, I am so sorry that I put the wrong web address on that video.”
She said, “I really hate to ask you, but can you do something about that?”
I said, “Here’s what I can do. I can completely re-shoot the video, or, let me see if I can fix it.”
She said, “Look, I don’t want you to put a lot of extra time into it. I appreciate what you’ve done so far. If there’s a way we can get that corrected, I’d appreciate it.”
After we hung up, I thought about a question that Darren had planted in my head years ago. He said, “When you have a problem, ask: ‘What can I do with this?’”
After some creative thinking, I returned to my video editing program and added new verbiage at the point where I had made the mistake about the website address.
After the re-edited was completed, and the video re-loaded to YouTube, Megan was sent the new link.
Within 20 minutes I got a text message. “Loved the video! It’s hilarious! Our members will love it!”
Thanks to the advice of a very smart mentor, I was able to take a mistake and turn it into a memorable moment.
My end-result video is better because it gives more insight into my personality, my sense of humor, and a sense of fun that I have when I give a presentation. I think it’ll set a more positive expectation for the audience when I step on that stage next month.
(If you’d like to see the video, click here.)
The next time you make a mistake, what will you do?
Flip out, get upset, scrap the project and start over?”
Or, ask the question, “What can I do with this? How can I make this even better? How can I turn it into a meaningful and memorable moment?
Try this the next time you make a mistake.
You’ll love the results. Until next time, always remember, you have a unique story to share when you are speaking. Tell it. Even if it has mistakes, others need to hear it.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
‘THE Book on Storytelling’ by…. me. Learn how the best speakers, storytellers and presenters develop and deliver stories that immediately grab audience attention, keep them on the edge of their seats, and inspire them to act of their message. This step-by-step ‘playbook’ will help you do the same.