Remembering points, trying to use body language, it can all get on top of you, especially if you’re an inexperienced presenter or are giving a complicated presentation. Don’t worry. Everyone makes mistakes when giving presentations, even the best. It’s how you handle it that counts. Whether you’ve said the wrong word, garbled a sentence, or lost your train of thought, the rules are the same:

What to do when you make a mistake in a presentation:

Take a breath.

Taking a breath gives you time and can calm your nerves. Pause for as long as you need to and resist the urge to quickly start talking again; begin when you know what you’re going to say makes sense. This stops you from making more panicked mistakes, or from garbling your words, and a pause can make you look thoughtful and in control.

Don’t apologise.

Apologising can reduce your credibility, and make you feel embarrassed. Making a mistake when you’re giving a presentation isn’t going to ruin anyone’s day, and you’ll really just be apologising to yourself. You can acknowledge the mistake, and be sure to correct yourself, but do so and move on.

Own the mistake.

By taking responsibility for a mistake, you appear confident. Tripping up on a word or getting a phrase back-to-front can be quickly solved by a correction, but any informational mistakes should always be corrected. ‘I should say x instead of y,’ or a correction along those lines is effective and isn’t apologising.

Talk To The Audience.

It’s okay to talk to the audience, especially if you’ve forgotten what you just said. Asking the audience what you were saying, or the name of something you’ve forgotten, can often seem planned and inclusive. It’s often a good idea to talk to the audience during your presentation anyway, and doing so can make this trick seamless.

No matter what your mistake, or how you handle it, remain positive and don’t get hung up on it. Mistakes are made by everyone, and are part of becoming a better public speaker.

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