Love means never having to say you’re sorry.
“I’m sorry, but I had only an hour to put this speech together.”
“I’m sorry … I need to look at my notes.”
“I’m sorry to get started late; the traffic was horrible.”
“I’m sorry, but my slide remote isn’t working.”
Never say you’re sorry. Apologies tell your audience they’re getting less than what was promised. An apology is an admission of failure—your failure to give value to your audience.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your performance may be, deal with them! Your audience has problems of their own, and they didn’t come to listen to you complain. If equipment fails or you forget a line, smile, do what you need to do, and keep on going. If you get started late, jump into your presentation with verve and let them wonder if they got there early. Most of the people watching your presentation will find it remarkable that you have the chutzpah to get up on the stage and speak at all. When gremlins sabotage your show, even if you have to interrupt your speech to put out a fire, tend to your work with grace and dignity. Engage and amaze your audience by showing them how cool you are under pressure.
I coached Joe, a speaker who was nervous about assuming a new meeting role. “Don’t apologize or make excuses. Don’t ask the audience to give you a pass because you’re unfamiliar with the job. Just do your best and ask for help if you need it.” At the end of the meeting, one of the participants pointed out how smoothly the meeting had gone under Joe’s management.
The style with which you manage inevitable performance problems is an indicator of your power and leadership. When problems come up—and they will—treat them as rites of passage on your speaker’s journey. Being a professional means never having to say you’re sorry.