Presentation fail

So, over a week ago, I gave a large presentation at work. I had prepared for it pretty hardcore and felt that I was going to do a fairly decent job. I had literally spent 2 months creating the deck, practicing it in front of peers and managers, and reviewing it on my own. I knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I wasn’t super worried, but rather a nice confident nervousness consumed me. Finally the day had come.

Then I blew it. Obviously. It sucked my will to live and I basically just wanted to leave work right afterwards and not come back till after I became heavily intoxicated (and of course gave myself time to sober up). Actually, this isn’t true. Directly afterwards, I was just relieved that it was done; it wasn’t for a few moments until I began listing the things I did wrong.

  • Had lame slides
  • Went out of the order I had practiced
  • Moved on stage too little
  • Got dry mouth
  • Became nervous faced/red-faced
  • Rushed through main points
  • Spoke to quickly
  • Didn’t smile enough
  • Came off as nervous

The list could have gone on forever, but luckily I was stopped when I received the feedback sheets from the 5 evaluators that were there (you know, the people who determine my review score and merit increase). According to the circled scores, my performance averaged about 3 out of 5. That was pretty much when I lost it.

Flash to later that night and I was still inconsolable. Even the email that I got from the directors that said “Awesome job! Way to go…” made me cry, because I knew they meant congrats to everyone but me. Looking back, I feel bad for Joe as I’m sure he couldn’t stand his weekend. I cried and moped and don’t really remember much more than that. Even on Sunday I still just sat around the house not feeling like doing anything and wouldn’t really let Joe leave my side either.

Monday was a little bit better. I was starting my new role and thankfully could avoid the fact that I can’t present and will never be CEO of anything in my life because I suck. The week came and went, and really, I think this had a lot to do with why I’ve posted so little. I just have no drive or desire to do anything.

Even Thursday when I was at my psychologist’s office we didn’t leave the topic of my presentation failure. It was probably her mistake for asking me right off the bat how my presentation went, but she had also known how much I had been preparing for it. This evolved into her thinking I have problems with accurately evaluating my own work and that I also expect too much out of myself. I hate it when people twist it like that because it I know they are just doing it to make me feel better.

I think what it boils down to though is that I just cannot handle constructive criticism. Before I go further though, here is a recap of the feedback I got:

  • Try to move around a bit more, you positioned yourself in one spot
  • Smile more, it will make you seem more enthusiastic
  • Try not to read the slides so much and engage more with the audience

There were some others, including it being nice that I didn’t look at the slides too much.. but I try not to overwhelm myself with conflicting information.

Now going into my new role, with an impending similar presentation in 3 months, I need to focus all of my energy on not biffing it in front of everyone again. I have volunteered to speak at pretty much every team meeting I could and even went to a Toastmasters meeting today. I hate the idea that me sucking so much could really impact my future.


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