Dealing with Missed Information & Misinformation – What if I Say the Wrong Thing?
This common question popped up again during one of our regular classes – what if I forget a line or say the wrong thing? We have all been there. No matter how thorough your preparation is, you never know when a wild thought may derail your calm mind and make you panic about the next line that you want to say. Worse still, in your haste to respond or complete an answer, you may end up missing out a crucial detail or answer!
The effect of missing the point or uttering the wrong thing may differ depending on the context. If you are having a casual conversation or an informal meeting, the repercussions are unlikely to be dire. The same cannot be said for a high-stakes scenario such as a board meeting or a crucial interview. For the latter, missing a few points (or saying the wrong things) may mean the difference between success and failure. There is no guaranteed remedy to ensure that this never happens to you in the future. The key, however, is to hone your recovery process – to refine how you deal with such situations should they unfortunately occur.
To help you along with this process, let us share 3 simple tips that you can immediately use to prepare for such a scenario.
Tip #1: Calm Down, Take a Deep Breath & Assess
It goes without saying that panic is the first danger sign, especially so in a ‘pressure-cooker’ environment. The stressful build-up of “what-ifs” and a possible fixation on the possible scenarios may sometimes create decision paralysis – you are just unable to make a choice and commit on a course of action! Frequently, the mental avalanche continues with you thinking about whether there are any other points that you have missed out. This further locks you in and prevents you from having a clear recovery plan.
The straightforward first step is simple – take a deep breath, enjoy a short pause (about 1 – 2 seconds), and start your assessment process. This is the process where you pick out and focus on one question – how important is the mistake or point that I missed out? In a scenario where you immediately realise your faux pas, taking the time to pause and assess will also help you to craft a perfect recovery response. Generally, if it is an immediate error or point that you missed out, the ideal step is to address it professionally and directly. If you uncovered the gap or error late, find an opportune time to rectify this later on in your speech/presentation. Either way, remember to remain calm, take a deep breath and assess the best course of action!
Tip #2: Address or Postpone
After calming yourself down and assessing the nature of the missed information, the next step is to decide if you need to rectify the gap. We may have the fear that any acknowledgement of the missed detail may make us look unprepared or distracted. This may even be disastrous in high-stakes situations such as an interview or an important meeting. Ultimately, you will need to decide whether to address the gap or postpone the clarification immediately.
In deciding the appropriate course of action, there are three factors to consider. First, consider the nature of the information that you missed out. If the detail is one that is crucial for the audience members’ understanding, immediately sharing the missed detail may be pertinent. In contrast, a minor, tangential detail may not require you to backtrack to an earlier point. Second, take your audience reaction into account. For example, if your audience is already on board with a particular point you are sharing, even with the missed information, there may not be a need to rehash an earlier point or discussion. Third, the stakes involved in the meeting may affect your decision. You may have more incentive to share any missed information or correct any misinformation in a high-stakes environment such as an interview or a board meeting. The three factors above will offer you a quick structure to apply in deciding your course of action.
Tip #3: Be Professional & Polite
Aside from the course of action, how you address the missed information or misinformation is crucial. We believe that setting the clarification out directly is usually a positive step. Your audience would appreciate your honesty. More importantly, they may view your clarification as an extension of your ability to be aware of the content you are delivering and present the same content competently.
In this sense, the general guide is to be professional and polite. You may have the urge to apologise vehemently before clarifying. Resist this urge and instead focus on utilising the time to bring your audience to the exact detail that you missed out. Acknowledge the error, Be clear about the missed detail, and Continue with your presentation or speech! By phrasing your clarification in a professional and polite tone, you can clarify the missed information or misinformation confidently!
Rehearse & Rehearse!
Our three tips aside, the ideal starting point is to avoid putting yourself in such a situation where you missed a key detail or explained a detail inaccurately. Instead of panicking and spiralling, confident communicators can weave the missed information or misinformation into their speech scaffold, at times, almost effortlessly. We hope that with the three tips above, you too can present confidently without that nagging fear at the back of your mind!
If you’re keen to take your public speaking & presentation skills (either business/corporate presentation or kids class presentation) to the next level so that you may public speak and present with flair and charisma, feel free to check out our offerings below!
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