What do Mark Zuckerberg and Ronald Reagan have in common? They’ve both made embarrassing presentation blunders that you can learn from. Even the most well-known public figures can run into mishaps sometimes. Learn from these four presentation fails to become a more polished public speaker:
Lesson #1: Hog the Limelight
In the 1990’s, Steve Jobs was delivering a presentation when an image of Bill Gates was put on a massive projector behind him. “That was my worst and stupidest staging mistake of my life,” Jobs later told his biographer. “It was bad because it made me look small, and Apple look small, and as if everything was in Bill’s hands.” Learn from Steve’s mistake by triple-checking your presentation materials and coordinating with everyone involved with your audio-visual aids.
Lesson #2: Dress Appropriately
In 2010, journalist Kara Swisher drilled Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s privacy policies during a conference panel, and Zuckerberg felt the heat. “Do you want to take off the hoodie?” Swisher asked. “No, I never take off the hoodie,” he replied. All this sweat only enhanced suspicion of Facebook’s privacy policies. Remember: bright lights, crowded venues, and nerves can make any presenter break a sweat. Dressing appropriately can make your presentation way *cooler*.
Lesson #3: Keep Dry Runs Clean
President Ronald Reagan once joked during a soundcheck for a radio address, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” Not everyone thought the joke was funny or appropriate, and President Reagan learned something we can all learn from: it’s better to keep your controversial comments away from the microphone.
Lesson #4: No “Performance Enhancers”
Way back in the 1800’s, U.S. Vice President Andrew Johnson had a reputation as an excellent speaker. That is, until Lincoln’s second inauguration, when he was clearly drunk. Rumor has it that he had a few too many whiskeys at the Capitol before the inauguration kicked off. It’s a timeless lesson: politicians and presenters alike would be wise to avoid the bottle until *after* the speech is over and it’s an appropriate time to celebrate.
Happy zeeting! 🙂