Merde!! How to get out of the presentational doodoo.

Written by David Pullan

Merde!! How to get out of the presentational doodoo.

Picture this.

You’re standing in front of an audience of financial analysts and giving, even if you say so yourself, a very fine account of your business as it currently stands.

Everything has gone exactly as you and your communications team has planned, when suddenly…BANG. You reach the moment when you are going to explain how one of your operating entities has been performing corporate magic and everything disappears from your head. 

The location. The names of the local management. Even what it is they do exactly.

From the serene calm you have been projecting, you now feel as if you have a family of monkeys jabbering in your ear telling you that you are a fool. Your hands go clammy. Your brow breaks out in beads of sweat, and you fumble over your notes looking for the details in a brain fog of fear. You are desperate to show that nothing has gone wrong.

Clowning teachers call this ‘Being in the shit.’ It’s the moment when YOU know you are in trouble. It’s the moment when the audience knows you are in trouble. And everyone is waiting to find out what happens next.

It’s also the moment when magic happens and can be a moment that unlocks the humanity of your communication if you are brave enough.

I have a new client who I deeply admire for many reasons but this week particularly so.

They showed me a video of a recent presentation where exactly the above scenario happened.

A big audience. New strategies being communicated to the business. People hanging on the words of my client, the CEO, when said CEO totally forgot which location they had recently been in.

There was silence. And I’m pretty sure the monkeys started to circle as everyone knew that this wasn’t part of the plan.

But instead of fumbling, and umming and erring, the CEO smiled, turned to the COO who was sitting in the front row and said, ‘Where was I last week?’

The answer came, the CEO said, ‘Oh yes of course’ and the presentation moved on.

What I sensed was that humanity had been created in the room. Instead of trying to be perfect my client was real. And the audience loved it.

My challenge to you all this week is to embrace the moments when you are in the doodoo. 

If you forget the name of the technology you are talking about then smile and ask a colleague and move on. If you forget the name of the FD you met in Singapore then smile and ask your client and move on. If you forget the name of that French bloke who said, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ then smile and ask your students…and move on.

Trying to be perfect is weird. Embracing mistakes is human. There is strength in vulnerability.

Remember this. Courage isn’t about not having fear. Courage is about what you do when you are frightened.

Have a good week and embrace the doodoo.


photo credit: alobos Life <a href="">;Tightrope walker en el Rio Mapocho</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>


  • W B Yeats

    'Think like a wise man, but communicate in the language of the people.'