I need to be honest about something–I totally FLOPPED during a pitch to a major company.
It was in front of FritoLay. Yes, the company that creates some of our most cherished crunchy and salty chips and snacks.
I was a junior in college studying abroad in London. Part of the marketing course I was taking was a group project that involved shooting a commercial and presenting it in front of a few marketing executives at the company. I was nominated (against my will) to do the pitch.
Now, let me paint the picture for you. This was before “polished” professional news anchor Lynn. I had no formal public speaking experience. I had basically ZERO confidence when it came to presenting in front of a group.
But of course, I projected confidence as much as I could. I walked in with a crisp jacket, standing with posture so impressive you would think I majored in pilates.
I knew the key to nailing a presentation was preparation. (I give a PEP talk to all my clients that includes this advice to this day, you can check it out here). So I walked in with a stack of a few notecards with all my talking points on them.
As soon as I got up in front of the marketing executives, I did the unthinkable. I dropped the notecards. Insert facepalm emoji. Make that ten facepalm emojis.
So as I’m squatting and scrambling to pick up all the notecards, I realize I didn’t number them. So now I have a dozen note cards, all out of order, with no time to reorganize them. At that moment, I knew I had to wing it.
The beginning of the pitch was a bit shaky as I was recovering from the embarrassing moment and at the same time trying to wing the pitch. Despite breaking out into a sweat at the beginning, I surprised myself and did a decent job for the pitch. At the end, everyone clapped, and I sat down. Whew, crisis averted… mostly.
What I learned that day, besides the importance of numbering your notecards, is to prepare for the worst. You never know when things will go left during your keynote speech, your sales pitch, or your TV news interview.
As a news anchor, I was always prepared for the worst. I would prepare extensively before every newscast in case the teleprompter went down during the live newscast. Before every media training session, client call, or interview I do, I make sure to prepare so that I don’t have that drop-the-notecard moment again.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment like mine, and what do you do differently now as a result?
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