What to Do After a Poorly Received Presentation

It’s bound to happen at some point. You prepare well. You practice over and over. Then, you step in front of the audience and bomb your presentation. So, how do you recover after a poorly received presentation? The truth is, public speaking failures can be a learning experience and rather than being embarrassed by them, you need to learn from them and start again. Here are a few things you can do to recover from a bad presentation. 


Don’t Beat Yourself Up

A bad presentation can be traumatizing and can lead people to avoid public speaking ever again. If it happens to you, the first thing you should do is hold your head up high and remember that you can’t hit it out of the ballpark every time. Public speaking is like falling off a bicycle- you’ve got to pick yourself up and get right back on. When you have messed up a presentation, it’s not healthy to dwell on it for too long. Give yourself time to “grieve” the poor performance and then take active steps to improve for next time. 


Examine What Went Wrong

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge so it’s time to take a hard look at your presentation and figure out what went wrong. If you received negative feedback from audience members, make notes of everything that was mentioned. If you already know what went wrong, write it down and then think about why. If you stumbled over your words, was it because you were too nervous or you didn’t prepare enough? If you had faulty technology, did you test it out prior to your presentation? If you missed the mark with your audience, did you research your audience beforehand? The answers to these questions will help you understand exactly where you went wrong so you can avoid those same mistakes in the future. 


Change the Way You Prepare

Perhaps you gave a presentation that was all over the place. Or it might have been your nerves getting the best of you. Whatever it was that led to your poor presentation, you want to be sure and do something different next time. First, narrow down your topic to something more specific. Then, research your audience so you know who you will be presenting to and what their motivation is for listening. Now you need to organize your speech into a few key points, typically no more than three. Use a few pieces of evidence to support each key point. Don’t forget to add in an attention getter at the beginning and a strong conclusion at the end. Finally, rehearse your presentation several times before the big day. Do so in front of family and friends who can offer honest feedback and critiques. 


Get a Coach or Take a Class

If you are struggling with how to improve your presentation skills, you should consider hiring a coach or attending a professional presentation training course. This will help you develop the skills necessary to give a dynamic presentation. It will also help you build confidence so you don’t feel as nervous the next time you present. If you have a career that involves giving a presentation from time to time, this could be a very beneficial investment in your future.