In this video, I share:

  • A story of a client who was absolutely certain she had bombed her talk – when in fact, she had nailed it! But her brain was telling her a totally different story…
  • How to recognize post-presentation syndrome and what to do about it.
  • What is a love sandwich – and how can it serve your great speaking?

Adapted transcript of video:

Hi there, I'm Michelle Barry Franco.

Let's talk about post-presentation syndrome. I'm wearing my Be Brave, Be Kind t-shirt from 1440 Multiversity, which turns out it's kind of relevant to this topic.

I recently had a client write to me after a talk she delivered and worked really hard on. She's a deep expert in her topic area. But this was a new audience, and it's an audience that is notoriously difficult to engage. She needed to come up with some stories that really would resonate with their experience, so that they felt like it applied in their lives. She did an amazing job of that with the content. But she was understandably nervous about doing this since it was a new audience for her.

She delivered the talk and the next day I wrote to her and said, “How did your talk go?” And she wrote me back saying, “Michelle, it flopped, it just did not go well at all, in spite of all of that practice and prep. The audience wasn't responding in the way I expected. I didn't feel like I was delivering those stories in the way that I had planned.”

As soon as I heard her start telling me the things she'd done wrong, I knew we were in a post-presentation syndrome situation.

First of all, here is what post-presentation syndrome is. This is the period after a talk, often a high-stakes talk, where you pull apart everything you said and did and think about all the things you did wrong, the things you forgot to say, the stories that you delivered not quite the way you had planned. It's just where you overanalyze the talk and think about everything that didn't go the way you expected or hoped that it would. This is pretty common. You know, it doesn't happen all the time, it doesn't happen to all of us, but even to some of the best speakers that I work with it happens sometimes, especially in these high stakes talks.

So, what do you do about post-presentation syndrome? And that's what I want to talk with you about – how to recognize it and then what you do about it. The way you know it’s happening is you start telling yourself all the things that didn't go well. Stop yourself and say, “Okay, wait a minute this must be PPS.” That's our short code for it.

Then you say, “Okay, first of all, this is normal.” The number one thing is to recognize with radical acceptance that this is a normal part of being a speaker, of being out there sharing your stories and expertise. There's vulnerability, there's risk, and therefore, there are times when you're going to be nervous about the way that you delivered. So first, radical acceptance.

Second, do something else, because during this phase you can't think clearly about what actually just happened. Your assessment of what happened is inaccurate. You can't trust it. Go do something else that's really fun for you, that really makes you feel good. For me, it's watching a romantic comedy. Those are my favorite. Or it's going outside and going for a walk and just recognizing how beautiful and vast nature always is, so reliable. Whatever feels awesome to you, moving your body if you are a person who likes to exercise, can add to that sense of release and moving through. So that's the second thing.

The third thing is, when you are in a better state in your body, do an analysis. Here's how I recommend you do the analysis. I call this a “love sandwich”. There are three parts to a love sandwich. The first part is, write down one thing you think you did really well, and be very specific, it might be, “I delivered that talk, and the opening ON – I was on, it was excellent, I could tell that it resonated for them. I remember them laughing.” Write that down.

Then in the center, the second thing you write on this little love sandwich analysis is, one thing that you would like to do differently next time. It could be a concept that you were trying to explain didn't look like it was resonating well. You could see by their facial expressions that they needed another way of understanding that concept. Write down, “Better description or explanation of this concept. Maybe next time I'll use a story to help explain it.”

The third thing you want to put on your love sandwich is one more thing you think you did awesome. It could just be, “I don't think they had any idea how nervous I was feeling and how much I felt like I wanted to run from the stage. I really stayed with it and I gave it my best delivery possible under the circumstances.” Write those all down. Because you'll use those for the next iteration of that talk and other talks. You can apply that learning.

But, you can't do a useful analysis if you're in that earlier PPS state, okay? The three things you do:

  • First, radical acceptance, it's totally normal to go through PPS at times.
  • Second, do something that makes you feel good, that puts you in a different more positive state.
  • Third, you can do a very clear analysis love sandwich style.

I hope that's useful to you. See you next week with another tip. Take care.