I’ve always advocated that you should NEVER apologize while you have control of the stage.
I’ll tell you why. It’s because typically it’s used as an excuse to suck (underwhelm), or because the speaker didn’t feel the need to prepare. They think it absolves them from wasting the audience’s time. But it doesn’t.
An example is when the speaker gets up there and says, “Sorry, I’m not very good at public speaking. Bear with me as I waste 40 minutes of your time.” News flash: The audience will have plenty of time to figure out that you suck, so don’t give them any ammo.
Another common reason for apologizing is sometimes a speaker will misspeak and flub over his or her words, instead of simply saying the word correctly and continuing on, the speaker will stop and apologize. All this does is waste time and distract the audience from what the speaker was talking about before the unnecessary apology.
For those reasons I stand firmly behind my opinion to never apologize.
However, recently something happened at the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant. Perhaps you heard? It involved Steve Harvey. Remember now?
Here’s a clip in case you live under a rock:
If you don’t have that much time, here’s the gist. He announced Ms. Colombia as the winner. Bravo Ms. Colombia! Or wait, what? Apparently she wasn’t actually the winner though. She was the first RUNNER-UP!
Ms. Phillipines was the real winner. Uh oh.
What’s worse (or more amusing) is that Steve Harvey became aware of this after Ms. Colombia was crowned, adorned with the winner’s sash, and handed the triumphant bouquet of flowers…Oh boy. That had to have been horrible for Ms. Colombia…and I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Steve felt the same way.
As long as we continue being human, accidents will happen. Some more serious than others, yet they’ll happen. For the record, though, saying “ass” instead of “ask” or mispronouncing a word ain’t as bad as embarrassing someone on national television. If you have any doubts, talk to Ms. Colombia about that! It’s all about the situation.
The silver lining to this: Steve Harvey took full responsibility for the mistake, and he looked sincere doing it. He handled his flaw, flawlessly. Some say it was a publicity stunt to get TV ratings because apparently no one watches those things…but I’m not convinced. And even if it was, it demonstrated that it’s OKAY to apologize when you’re commanding the stage.
It was a good lesson for us all to learn. I’m just grateful that I didn’t have to learn it on live television 🙂
So, under the right circumstances, it is OKAY to stop and apologize to the audience. Just make sure it’s a big, dumb mistake that’s worthy of one.
***SUPER DUPER UPDATE!***
I was fighting to get it out in 2015, but there were some major formatting errors that crept up on me which required a additional proof reviews. Fun stuff…
This is not….I repeat…This is NOT a sales pamphlet positioning me as “GURU” that’s simply disguised as a book. Nuh-uh. You know what I’m talking about where all it does is talk about problems and the only solution is the person who wrote it…This book is full of my most effective tips and techniques engineered to help you overcome the fear of public speaking and become a better communicator overall.
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