(Miss Part 4? No worries! Click here to read it.)


It’s nearly the end of my summer holiday and I’m counting down the days I have left in the sun, hanging at the beach, work-free… which isn’t many. As I reflect on the year that has been, I’ve delivered many interesting presentations, but I’ve also realised there are a few that I could learn a thing or two from. I’ve started to look at the best way to bounce back from a tough talk because bouncing back isn’t always easy when you feel embarrassed, or have accidentally said something the wrong way.

“Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast” is one of my favourite quotes from Kevin Roberts, former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. I think this quote is awesome and it’s how I’ve started approaching learning after a tough talk.

Five Keys to Bouncing Back

#1. Don’t let mistakes get the better of you, everyone makes mistakes at some point. Mistakes are for learning; if you’ve never made a mistake while presenting then you’re either perfect or haven’t yet realised areas that can be improved upon.

#2. Talk to someone who has presentation experience and ask them to watch your speech and give some honest feedback. Ask for a ‘Happy Sandwich’; everyone loves a good sandwich! This is where a person gives you positive constructive feedback and then finishes off with more positive feedback. No one wants to be slammed with just negativity when receiving feedback on their presentation.

#3. Record your presentation. Set up to have your presentation recorded, this way you can play back and see the areas that you can improve. I once saw the CEO of a company hold the projector clicker while presenting in a way that he was pulling the middle finger at the audience. If he recorded himself, he would have discovered this awkward and bad habit.

#4. Ask for help. No one becomes an expert on their own. It’s through shared knowledge, hours of work and training that takes someone on a journey to becoming an expert and the same is with communication. Attend public speaking workshops, seek out a communication mentor or look on trusty old Google for what communication books you could read.

#5. Remind yourself of past presentations that have gone well. What went well? Why was that presentation a success? Can you do something from that presentation again to help with the success of your next speech? Reminding yourself of your successes can help if you are feeling a bit down after a mistake or failure of a talk. Your failures don’t define you.

Remember that when you do fail in a speech (and it does happen), keep going. Learn from it and find ways to fix that area of your skill set so you can improve for next time.


Kirsty is the Managing Director for Develop HQ, a Training and Development Company. She is passionate about youth communication, public speaking and leadership skills. She has presented and delivered workshops to over 80,000 people throughout New Zealand and Australia.