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How to Bounce Back from a Presentation Meltdown

This is a guest post from Kalibrr.com.

Imagine yourself in front of a crowded room. The lights turn down low so that only the stage and projector screen are in focus. You hear murmurs and whispers from the audience, patiently waiting for the next speaker to talk about the importance of building your network. They’re waiting for you.

Your hands start to sweat. The room suddenly feels warm even if you’re already in front of the AC, and the index cards (a.k.a. cheat sheets) you’re holding are starting to moisten at the sides. You prepared for this talk all your life — well, maybe just for a couple of days — but the experiences you’ve gathered since the start of your career make up for it.

This is a common problem whenever you’re about to do a presentation: anxiety. But when you can’t tame that anxiety, guess what will happen?

You’ll freeze up. You’ll experience mental block. And, worst of all, you’ll have it right in the middle of your presentation, just as you’re about to make an important point.

There’s a secret weapon you could use to bounce back:

ABSORB.

It’s not just a word or an acronym. It’s a process conceptualized by Terry Gault, Vice President of the Henderson Group, an investment management company.

Let’s see how these six letters can keep us grounded:

A – Aware

1-ABSORB-Aware

First things first: be aware that something’s gone wrong. You’re in an awkward situation, so don’t panic. If you do, you end up choking, and embarrassing yourself in front of your audience even more. Instead, what you should do is to…

B – Breathe

2-ABSORB-Breathe

Panicking can make you forget to breathe, or start breathing too fast. In fact, worried pacing or shallow breathing contributes to more panic. Calm down and breathe slowly. Take two deep breaths, and smile so you won’t look too tense. Remember: the mind needs a good supply of oxygen to function well.

S – Stillness and Silence

3-ABSORB-Stillness-Silence

It’s best not to tell your audience that something has happened, or that you forgot what to say. Instead, keep quiet, and again, keep calm. Silence creates anticipation and lets your audience absorb information you presented. That should buy you a couple of seconds to…

O – (Consider Your) Options

4-ABSORB-Consider-Options

What are your best possible options to casually get back on track?

Should you skip the slide? Should you make a joke? Should you scan through your notes?

Our advice: scan through your cheat sheets without looking like a total fool for forgetting. Casually walk towards where you placed your notes (and, hopefully, a glass of water), take a sip of water while scanning through them, then put down the glass and scan again.

R – Respond

5-ABSORB-Respond

If you’ve figured out what to do, act on it quickly but casually. Talk slowly after a few seconds of awkward silence just so your audience could also get back on track with you.

B – Breathe again

6-ABSORB-Breathe-Again

Take another deep breath to eliminate any remaining anxiety. Swiftly evaluate whether your response was effective. If not, try another approach. But if it was, remain calm and celebrate your victory!

When presenting, losing your nerve can be inevitable. Letting this get the best of you is not.

Develop this strategy when you’re prone to anxiety during presentations, and find a way to transform that energy into a positive approach. Otherwise, you’ll keep running into mental blocks.

Master your presentation so that you won’t even need to look at the slides. All it takes is practice, practice, practice!

Kalibrr is an online job matching platform based in the Philippines with over 5,000 customers worldwide. Kalibrr’s vision is to connect talent to opportunity at scale. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more career advice.

Branding Lessons from Volkswagen’s Emission Test Fiasco

Your brand is your key to building and maintaining your customer base. Keeping your brand’s promises consistently keeps people loyal to your brand. A single mistake can instantly break that trust, which may cost years to get back.

This is why the recent allegation of Volkswagen using software for cheating diesel engine emissions test results is such a big deal.

What happened during the 2015 Volkswagen scandal?

Why the Volkswagen Scandal was Such a Big Deal
Why the Volkswagen scandal was such a big deal.

According to reports, the US Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the automaker had installed a program to adjust engine performance when the cars were subjected to carbon emission tests. This led people to believe that Volkswagen’s diesel engines were compliant with environmental standards, meaning they were supposedly cleaner.

As if this wasn’t enough, reports also say similar models shipped to European and Asian countries could also be affected by this software as well. The total number of affected vehicles could reach at least 11 million.

CEO Martin Winterkorn has already apologized for his company’s apparent violation of environmental safety standards, and is set to step down. While we have yet to hear news about a product recall, it’s safe to say that the public’s trust in Volkswagen has dropped significantly. Even then, there are also lessons we can learn about safeguarding your brand during trying times:

1. Do a Product Recall

Volkswagen should do a product recall 2015
Don’t let defective products stay in the market, or your brand’s reputation could tank further.

If anyone finds something wrong with your product, do a recall as soon as you can. Auto manufacturers like GM and Honda have also done recalls over defective parts when problems have been reported. This shows that you’re not willing to risk the public over the mistakes you made. You also give the impression that you act swiftly to correct your mistakes.

2. Issue an Apology

Volkswagen issued a public apology about the 2015 emission tests
Own up to your company’s mistakes. Never run away from them.

Owning up to your mistake is a crucial part of the brand recovery process. If you don’t share your side of the issue, the media will just keep reporting complaints from people and accidents caused by defective products This can be seen in the public apology done by Winterkorn. While it’s true that the public is still angry with Volkswagen, at least they humbly admitted their mistake and didn’t point fingers.

3. Keep the Public Posted

Volkswagen should keep the public informed about the 2015 issue
Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, keep taking steps to solve the problem, while keeping the public informed at the same time.

Maintaining a presence and updating your customers is another crucial lesson here. It goes without saying that you need to improve your product and fix what was broken. But as you do this, always remember to keep the public informed about the steps you’re taking.

As of this writing, Volkswagen has yet to take action over the affected cars. Expect that a costly recall will come up, though. While billions of dollars and euros might be spent to fix this problem, the people will be watching the company’s every move. It’s best for them to avoid taking wrong turns at this juncture.

The Bottomline

Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its emission test scandal
Volkswagen has a lot to learn from its public scandal, but the company can still recover with a lot of hard work.

The hardest part about your brand is that you will, at some point, have to own up to your mistakes. When this happens, it’s important to be quick in recalling any affected products. Don’t forget to share your side of the story and what you plan to do about the situation. This will help minimize the damage done by bad publicity and show that you‘re doing something to address the problem.

As for the Volkswagen fiasco, the company’s going to need a lot more than an apology to get their brand back on the right track.

References

DeBord, Matthew. “VW’s Cheating on Emissions Tests Goes to the Heart of Its US Business.” Business Insider. September 21, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015. www.businessinsider.com
Thomas, Chad. “VW Chief Winterkorn Steps Down After Emissions Scandal.” Bloomberg.com. September 23, 2015. Accessed September 24, 2015. www.bloomberg.com
Thompson, Mark, and Ivana Kottasova. “Volkswagen Scandal Widens: $7.3 Billion Cost, 11 Million Cars.” CNNMoney. September 22, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015. www.money.cnn.com