Avoid Public Speech Mistakes and Re-build Trust with an Audience

[caption id="attachment_7248" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Healing by Wolf Soul, Creative Commons"]Healing by Wolf Soul, Creative Commons[/caption]

It’s almost Valentine’s Day and images are everywhere reminding us to care.

In that spirit, have you ever seen a public speaker who came across like they just didn't care?

I did recently at a conference. And their indifference was like receiving toothpicks for Valentines - it was technically still a gift of function but without making the recipient (or audience) feel special in the process!

At that recent event, the speaker - a business owner in a room full of business owners - said when advancing their slides:

"Oh this set of slides is meant for a different talk. I guess I forgot to change these." At that point, another conference's logo (not the logo representing our event) glared on the overhead screen. Without apology, the speaker continued.

This experience was a lost opportunity for audience and speaker alike. Every public speech is a chance to give value, forge trust, and build brand credibility with the audience.

Steps to recover trust that this speaker could've taken:

1. Show ownership and a solution quickly
A simple apology gains tons of ground! In this case, the correct slides could've been made available later via email or Slideshare. Neither occurred.

2. Offer a gift
Extend a discount on services or sneak peek on upcoming product launches. That's not to suggest giving 'away the farm' just because of a presentation error. But it's a tangible way to show value for that particular audience.

3. Welcome honest feedback
Convey value for the audience's opinion and insight even if it means eating humble pie, with this statement as example: "Thanks for your time today and hanging in there when I messed up. I'm committed to improving value so I hope you'll relay feedback on the event evaluation."

4. Invite ongoing conversation after the event
The speaker-audience experience is a relational dynamic with all sorts of potential for leads, partnerships, and even community. The speaker could've shown their interest by offering to engage post-event through LinkedIn, Twitter, or other networks.

What do you think? Have you been in a similar situation? How else could this presenter have shown they valued the audience after the slide mistake?

Jill Foster, SCORE Guest Blogger
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