The Greater Impact of Typos, Lupita Nyong’o and You

Thanks to all of you who so kindly pointed out the typos in my last newsletter. At first I was completely horrified that between myself, my copy editor and my assistant we had not noticed them.   Then, I was grateful for how gracious you were.  I asked one of my colleagues if she thought I should resend it error-free and she reminded me of my own words: “There is no erase button in life.” So first, I apologize for not triple checking my communication, and second, I remind us all that mistakes will happen and it’s how we handle them that matters.

The same is true for presentations. If you find yourself speaking and lose track or phrase something incorrectly, it is much better to say, “Let me rephrase that” or “Let me put that another way” or” Forgive me, I have lost track for a minute, does anyone remember where I was?,” rather than to panic and ask to start again. When Transformers director Michael Bay’s PowerPoint crashed, he did exactly that. He panicked and walked off the stage during the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year. I wish he had just acknowledged the glitch with something like, “My PowerPoint has crashed, so instead of me giving you a presentation, why don’t you ask me questions, and I will answer them?”

In Presentations Skills Training, we don’t look for perfection. People don’t expect you to be perfect; they just expect you to be the best version of yourself and to communicate your message with confidence and clarity. I also think we are often too hard on ourselves, and assume that others view us with the same “microscopic” lens from which we view ourselves. In his book, The Fifth Agreement, Don Ruiz Miguel says people don’t notice us as much as we think they do; as they are so busy “starring in their own movies.”


So, while we all strive for perfection, we must also accept our mistakes with humility, apologize and move on with grace.

On the subject of grace, best supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o embodies the term. Her speech at the Academy Awards was authentic, eloquent and inspirational. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out here.

Everything of the best for a wonderful rest of the week!