Communication Rebel Blog

Your Presentation Sucked. Now What?

You blew it. Your presentation sucked and now during a dark night of the soul, you are wondering, “NOW WHAT?”

So you did what any normal human being would do and you Googled it, which landed you here.

First of all, welcome! Second, I want to tell you right off the bat – it's okay. Take a deep breath. Know that it is okay.

Bad presentations happen. Not closing the sale happens. Bombing your speech happens.

Bad speeches happen to good people (more often than you think).

Now, it’s all about how you recover from this incident. It’s about what you can learn and how to move on.

Here’s my best advice for how to recover if your presentation sucked:

Go Easy On Yourself

Have you ever seen that sign on a car door mirror that says, “objects in this mirror are closer than they appear?”

Presentation screws-ups are bigger in YOUR mind than anyone else’s. How do I know that? I know because you landed on this page.

Right now, you’re beating yourself up. You're comparing yourself to other speakers. Your inner critic is raging at you, saying, “How could you? I told you that you didn’t prepare enough. That the message wasn’t clear enough. Did you see how you spit on that person in the front row?”

Tell that voice to shut its pie hole. NOW!

You are at a critical juncture and you have a choice. You can choose to further traumatize yourself or you can choose to go easy on yourself and move to my next piece of advice.

Do a Presentation Autopsy

That sounds gruesome, right? It’s not. In fact, you should think about the following questions after every presentation you give, whether awesome or sucky:

The first question to ask yourself is this: “What did I do WELL?”

I know you’re thinking, “Nothing, Michelle. That’s why I’ve read this far.”

Let’s be honest. You probably did at least one small thing right. Maybe you smiled at the audience. Got a laugh at a joke. Made it to the end even though you felt like you were sucking wind.

There’s always something to celebrate, so find it and focus on it.

Once you’ve identified what you did well (or maybe a couple of things you did well), ask yourself this: “What’s ONE thing I would do differently next time?”

ONE THING, not twenty things. Becoming a better speaker is something that happens incrementally. Trust me. When I first started speaking, I was BAD. But I kept at it and kept improving and over time I mastered it.

You can too. So what’s your one thing?

Maybe it’s spending more time developing your message, practicing it more so you vanquish those “um's,” or maybe it’s not drinking a bottle of wine the night before.

Pick one thing to improve then DO IT!

And finally…

Speak Again ASAP

Remember when you fell off your bike and scraped your knee as a kid? What did your parents tell you to do?

Did they tell you to see the bike as an evil demon so you never ride it again? Or did they tell you to get back on the bike and start pedaling?

You need to get back on the speaking bike as soon as possible.

The more you speak, the more skilled you will get. The sooner you stand up in front of a room and speak your mind, the sooner you will get over the fact that you think this presentation sucked.

Speak again as soon as possible and you’ll most likely find that this one time was a fluke.


You’ve made it to the end. I hope you are feeling a bit relieved. Go easy on yourself. Do your presentation autopsy. Celebrate what went well. Identify the one change you want to make. Get out there and speak again!

You’ve got this. I know you do.

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