Okay... right up front I’ll acknowledge that there are a few times when an apology might be called for—like when your technology quits on you right before you start and the audience has to wait while you reboot. Another time might be when you arrive at your event late (whether it’s your fault or not). But these are not the kinds of apologies I’m referring to here.
I’m referring to those “I’m not good enough apologies” that have speakers confessing their “speaker sins” before they’ve even committed them! In fact, I’d be really surprised if you haven’t sat in the audience of at least one speaker who’s actually started their presentation with an apology. I understand. It’s a preemptive apology meant to account for any problems and/or mistakes they might make during their presentation. But still… yikes!
Now I’ll offer a personal example of an unnecessary apology—from me. I’m sorry this article is going to be shorter than usual. The apology is because I’m not sure this article will be what you expect of me. But here’s the thing… the solution to offering unnecessary apologies like this is simple.
The reasons to not make apologies are simple too:
Think about how your host is going to feel if you make apologies before, during, or after your presentation. They’ve been talking you up and now you’re talking yourself down. How likely are they to invite you back or refer you to someone else?
Think about how your audience will feel. They came in looking forward to hearing you speak, but now you’re apologizing and they’re wondering just how qualified you actually are. The sad part about this is that most of the time no one will even know you made a mistake!
Think about the blow you’re delivering to your self-confidence when you apologize to your audience. Those unnecessary apologies can have you stressing over what might go wrong instead of confidently diving into your presentation. The solution for this is simple too. Remember the difference between the confidence you have about standing on the stage and the confidence you have in your material. If you’re like most people, you have more confidence in your material. That’s good because you never have to apologize for sharing your great content and expertise with an audience. So, instead of thinking about what might go wrong because you aren’t as polished as you’d like to be, stay focused on your content and on your goal of sharing it with an audience full of people who could truly benefit from hearing it.
As is so often the case for us, the bottom line comes down to how much time we’re willing to invest in our presentations, because with enough preparation and practice we can pretty much eliminate the need for any apologies. Until then, let’s keep the secret that you’re still a work in progress—like we all are—between us.