Martin's Blog

My Most Embarrassing Presentation “Mistakes”

by Martin Rooney | Presenting

I am often asked if I have always been the motivating and confident speaker I appear to be on stage today. I wish I could say the answer is, “Yes.” I would love to state I never had a fear of presenting and all my skills just came natural to me. Those statements, however, would not be true.

Learning to present over the last 20 years has been both a painful process of trial and error and an accident! What I mean is that I never set out to be a speaker. The company I worked for needed someone to present to the public every Monday and Wednesday for an hour. And they decided that “someone” was me! The purpose was to educate parents from the community about our product and at the end of the talk, to sell people on our program. As someone who was not comfortable presenting or selling, you can imagine the anxiety I had those two nights of the week.

Even though it was challenge at the time, I now look back on the opportunity as positive. Each week, I took it upon myself to work on some area of my presenting to improve. At first, finding things to work on was easy. All I needed was a video camera. Watching your own speeches on video can be a horrifying experience. I know it was for me! Did my voice really sound like that? Why was I moving side to side and clasping my hands so much? What was wrong that I looked so serious about a fun topic like fitness? How was I ever going to remember all the information?

Slowly but surely, I continued to remove problem after problem until Monday night was something I actually looked forward to! Instead of dreading speaking to a group, I started to get excited to see if I could inspire and influence the crowd. These evenings opened up other opportunities to present in my community and home state. Each new opportunity led to new challenges and unfortunately, new mistakes I would learn to overcome.

Today, I have had the opportunity to present for Fortune 500 companies, professional sport teams, Olympic Committees and military organizations. I am in front of more than 10,000 people per year on stage and love both the process of getting ready for an event and the rush of the applause signaling a job well done. Now when I look back on my presenting career, I realize it is a product of all the disasters and tragedies. Instead of focusing on all the speeches that went well, here are a 10 things that have happened to me on my road to becoming a professional speaker:

  1. I forgot to order chairs for a presentation in Los Angeles, California and people had to sit on the floor.
  2. There was no heat for the room I booked for my presentation in Scotland and people had to sit shivering in full coats and winter hats. (I could barely hold on to the remote and it kept falling out of my frozen hands!)
  3. I never checked the lighting for a presentation in Denmark and the powerpoint on the wall was completely whited out. We started 30 minutes late after taping towels and blankets over the windows.
  4. I didn’t account for the time a translator would take to repeat my words in Italy and my presentation went so late into the evening that people were falling asleep!
  5. My plane had to crash land in a blizzard after I had not checked the weather ahead of time and properly planned my travel. (I still made the speech in St.Louis, but the stress of the trip was almost too much to take!)
  6. The venue I booked only had one working bathroom for almost 100 people in Seattle. Needless to say, the “5 minute bathroom breaks” turned into over an hour and my whole speech was off schedule.
  7. I didn’t know how to properly use my new Apple computer and actually had to give an entire presentation in Chicago with the audience seeing the current and upcoming slide. Talk about a spoiler alert!
  8. I was way under-dressed for a business talk in New York City and learned feeling out of place can negatively impact your presentation.
  9. I showed up late for a presentation in London, England not planning properly for the hour of morning traffic to get to the event.
  10. My batteries for my remote went dead at a presentation in Finland and I had to have a person from the audience advance my slides from my computer.

When I look back on this list (and trust me, there are many more!) I realize for every great speech I have delivered, I have had an equal number of speeches that came with a unique set of problems. And the kicker to all of these problems? They were all preventable! Now looking back, the only person to blame was myself. Had I known these kinds of challenges could exist and had I properly prepared for them, I could have avoided a lot of pain.

That pain is why I created my online speaking course Presenting Greatness for you. My goal is to make more people aware of the challenges that can exist with presenting beyond just creating your content or getting rid of some errors in pronunciation. So what are you really purchasing when you join Presenting Greatness? MY MISTAKES! Yes, you will receive hundreds of tips and ideas to improve your speaking skill, but I only learned these by doing them wrong. Presenting Greatness is actually the product I wish I had over 20 years ago when I started taking the stage.

The goal in life is to make inexpensive mistakes, not expensive ones. I have made the expensive mistakes so you don’t have to! That is the purpose behind Presenting Greatness. Now having experienced the joys of presenting and understanding how important the skill of public speaking is for your future, I have detailed out everything I know in a easy-to-use online course. With over 50 videos and 8 hours of content, Presenting Greatness is your step-by-step guide to take you from an idea to your first standing ovation. By going through the videos and doing the work in the guidebook provided, you will immediately reduce your chances for mistakes and advance your career with confidence.

If you want to avoid having a list of problematic stories like the ones I shared above, JOIN THE COURSE, do the work and you will be on your way to Presenting Greatness!

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