“Even if you fall flat on your face, you’re still moving forward.” Victor Kiam

Taking a risk where you may fall flat on your face is about taking the risk and growing. Imagine how different your life would be if your only goal was to make new mistakes every day.

Bring that mindset into your presentations and training. Standing in front of a group is scary for most people. Yet it is required in most leadership roles. Often people use that fear to keep them on the safe and narrow. Did you ever return from a boring training or presentation feeling energized? feeling ready to take on the next challenge? I doubt it.

Get creative when you train or present. Take a risk:

1 Use photos that make a statement if you’re using a visual presentation to accompany your talk or training. Your visuals are not your speaking notes. Same for your handouts. I can read. No need for you to read your presentation to me.  If that is all I need to do, there’s no reason for you to be there. Just email everyone your slides.

2 Have a theme or message that you can narrow down to a few words. I teach instructional design to trainers where I show them the methodology that I use ~ Kolb’s experiential (interactive) training model. My main message: I don’t care if you use my training method. Just have one. You speaking to a PowerPoint is not training, and it often a waste of resources.

3 Start with a catchy phrase or question. I start training with: Who here wants to listen to me talk for 8 hours? Of course, the answer is no one, and that’s perfect because true training requires staff or students to participate, to work, and to provide each other with feedback.That phrase leads into that conversation. People know from that question that I have a sense of humour so we’re going to have some fun while they practice new skills.

4 Be yourself. Be yourself. Be yourself. You can learn tips and tricks from great trainers and speakers, but don’t be them. Be you.

Take the risk of following these four tips. Practice until you’re clear. I bet your training or presentation will be better than ever, and I doubt very much that you will fall flat on your face. How will you take a risk in your next presentation?


  1. Donovan on March 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Your post distills the keys to great presenting beautifully. I have been to many meetings that fail to capture attention well. I agree that it is important not to copy the style of others. It is critical to adopt these keys, as they are universal. Nice!

  2. Gustavo on March 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Hi Catherine, great pieces of advice, thank you. My own favorite: be yourself. If you are not going to enjoy giving a speech, why give it, in the first place.

  3. Stella Scott on March 8, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    To the point! Prepare well and start practicing. You can’t get better if you don’t give it a go.

  4. Jennifer Kennedy on March 15, 2013 at 1:11 am

    A few years ago, I was TERRIFIED to speak in front of a crowd. I would mumble some things and quickly run off stage when I was done. I joined Toastmasters and have since practiced Falling Flat on my Face..and being okay with that!!

    I’m still practicing #4 — be yourself. It’s a process though! Constant practice really helps.

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