Get over it. No matter how much you prepare and plan ahead, speaking bloopers will happen, and some of them, despite all your planning, will be beyond your control. Instead of dreading those blunders, however, here are a few good reasons to learn to love, and more importantly, laugh at your speaking blunders:
1. They can be a source of humor – depending on how you react. And spontaneous humor is often the funniest humor there is. If you use a humorous recovery line or a little self deprecating humor after making a blunder, it sends the message that a) you’re human, b) you take yourself lightly and c) you’re not on autopilot (okay, that’s three messages, even better). Remember – audiences are very forgiving. What they won’t forgive is a speaker who takes themselves too seriously.
2. Bloopers are a great learning source. It’s a cliché to say we learn from our mistakes, but it’s true. Each time a blunder happens, ask yourself three questions: a) what did you learn from it, b) what can you do to prevent it from happening again, c) if it does happen again, how will you react to it the next time?
3. Bloopers keep us humble. Speaking can be a very ego-expanding experience when things go great. Remembering and sharing our past blunders can help us keep our feet planted firmly on the ground.
4. Bloopers remind us that life happens. Speaking can be a very ego-destroying experience when things go bad. Remembering to laugh at our blunders can remind us not to take things too seriously and offer some much needed perspective when things go wrong.
5. Laughing at our blunders can minimize our speaking jitters by reminding ourselves a) if something goes wrong, I’m humorously prepared for it and b) if something goes wrong it’s not the end of the world.
6. Laughing at ourselves keeps the audience relaxed, too. Audiences mirror the speaker, so if you get nervous, they get nervous. But if you laugh first and beat them to the punch line, you’ll minimize the nerves they feel for you, and they’ll laugh with you, not at you.
7. Laughing at our blunders reduces our stress levels and minimizes the odds of suffering from that horrible affliction, “perfectionitis.” Trying to be our best each and every time out is a positive, healthy outlook. Trying to be perfect, probably isn’t it.
Remember, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’ll leave the job the others!
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2013
Michael Kerr is an international business speaker, funny motivational speaker, trainer and author of “The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank,” “Putting Humor to Work” and “Inspiring Workplaces.” You can reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more humor at work articles, DVDs and other humor at work resources, surf on over to www.mikekerr.com . Michael helps workplaces reduce stress, boost morale, spark creativity and increase productivity by putting humor to work.
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