How to Recover from a Bad Presentation

Originally posted to LinkedIn. This post expands upon the original.

I bombed in my first big presentation in front of a 400 person audience.

I was 30 at the time and a first year product manager. We were on an International tour across 5 countries in Asia to give a product update to our channel partners and prospects.

The first presentation was in Korea in front of an audience of 400. I thought I was ready because I knew the product cold, but I wasn’t ready.

I didn’t know how to present, to tell a story or to connect with an audience. Only much later in my career did I learn the impact of storytelling in a presentation.

I should have apologized to everyone that sat through my rambling and awkward pauses.

One image is still seared into my memory from that trip. There were 3 interpreters sitting in boxes at the back of the room scrambling to keep up with me.

They had red lights to alert you when you’re talking too fast. And those lights were flashing non-stop. They were meant for you to slow down but had the opposite effect on me.

We did that same presentation 7 more times on that trip. I recall the anxiety and regret. I don’t dwell on that experience at all except to think of how lucky I was.

Someone gave me this opportunity to learn and that is what I remember the most. It’s what drives me to give someone else an opportunity.

I was thinking ‘why me?’ at the time.

Now all I can say is thank you.

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