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One of the most common fears my clients tell me about revolves around doing presentations. They are terrified of bombing and receiving horrible feedback. When you put yourself into uncomfortable situations, do you fear negative feedback too?

I understand. Me too.


You would think after 30 some years of presenting that I would hit it out of the park every time. No way, man. I have lots of amazing sessions, and every now and then, there’s a disconnect. Usually, I tell myself that it’s completely fine, that getting this type of response keeps me humble and allows me to experience some of the presentation perils and feedback experiences my clients do. I understand your world because I live in it too.

One of the most frustrating things …

Whether it’s a presentation, a project, or a business pitch, you prepare everything in advance, you review and update your info, insert new research data, tailor what you’re going to present with examples relevant to your recipient. You feel confident and believe in what you’re saying. You even arrive early to your meeting to ensure everything technical works, and in spite of all that … your presentation falls flat. You’ve done everything right, it seems. It’s just not received well.

What gives?

You did your homework. You’ve even delivered this type of presentation multiple times and you KNOW the information is solid and useful.

The disconnect is with the person receiving, not necessarily with you and your message.

Sometimes you could stand on your head and spit nickels, and you just won’t connect. In times like these, here are some tips to remember:

It has less to do with you and more to do with THEM.

The receiving audience is sometimes just not in the right frame of mind to receive. Your message may be exactly what will help them, but if they’re not in the “receive” and “listen” mode for whatever reason, you’re speaking to deaf ears.

Your message is still valuable.

Just because your expertise was not well received, doesn’t devalue it one bit. Your competence remains intact. Your credentials are still as solid as they ever were. Because this audience didn’t actually see them for what they were, doesn’t remove the fact that they exist as they always have, and you’re as competent as you ever were.

They are rejecting your message, not you.

An unreceptive audience doesn’t devalue YOU as a person, unless you let it. You’re still the same wonderfully skilled, talented, knowledgeable person you were before you gave the presentation, feedback, or suggestion. In fact, after a rejection, you’re even more experienced now.

Get the MESSAGE out of the MESS.

Learn from the experience and use it to build on for the next similar occasion. Was there anything you could have done differently? Maybe not. Maybe you did everything right and if so, this could be an opportunity to practice letting go.

Presenting your ideas won’t always go your way.

Why doesn’t it work every single time? It’s the human factor–that’s the biggest variable you deal with. You have no control over the baggage people walk in carrying. Some just don’t have the capacity to move forward for a variety of reasons, all of which have nothing to do with you. You didn’t create that baggage that’s changing their perception. You don’t own it, they do. And it’s affecting their reaction to you and how well they do or don’t receive what you’re sharing.

It’s not fun feeling like you didn’t quite connect the way you had hoped.

Assume responsibility for all the pieces you control, and then, acknowledge the audience’s role in receiving. Communication is a two-way street and the sad reality is that some people walk around with one-way signs. They’re not interested in receiving at all, no matter how valuable your gift was. They have chosen their path and refuse to be detoured even in the face of compelling new information.

Keep on sharing your gift.

Rest assured that someone needs to hear your message–it just might not be them. Commend yourself on the effort you took to prepare. Get the lesson before you leave. Know that rejection of your message doesn’t change your value. Try out your message on another audience that is more receptive. Get your validation from other sources. You deserve to be heard.

PS: Want learn how to give feedback that works? Click on the button below and join my online instructor-led training session.

© 2014-2020 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

©2021 Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Until next time, here’s to …
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
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Marion Grobb Finkelstein

Marion Grobb Finkelstein helps leaders use their natural communication strengths to build resilient teams that talk.

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