Managing slip-ups

Even the very best and most prepared speakers will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. I make slip-ups. It happens.

BackspaceFor example you might:

  • forget a word
  • mispronounce a word
  • find a spelling mistake on your PowerPoint
  • miss out a slide
  • leave something out

The main advice is not to let minor slip-ups put you off your stride. Firstly, if no-one has noticed, just carry on. Unless it’s central to your presentation they’re not going to know what you’ve left out! So just carry on.


If you do need to go back and include a point or talk about a slide don’t make a big fuss, such as:

“Oh I forgot to mention …

I know this is out of order but …”


Instead you could simply say:

“There is one additional point I want to make about …”.


If you stumble over a word just say:

“Sorry” and repeat it.

If you really mangle a sentence you could say:

“Let me try that again. In English this time!”


If your mind goes blank and you can’t remember a name or a fact or the right word just say:

“The detail has slipped my mind for a moment. It’ll come back to me”. Or

“I’ve had a blank. I’ll come back to that”.

Then move on.

Don’t keep thinking about your mistake. That will make things worse. Move on to the next thing. Don’t draw attention to spelling mistakes and other minor mishaps. If you do start to get anxious, take a breath, have a sip of water, compose yourself and focus on the next bit.

And after the event don’t beat yourself up about slip-ups. You can fix things up the next time, but for now, focus on what worked.

Remember we all make mistakes.

Extract from Presenting your Research with Confidence, Hugh Kearns

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