Woke up yesterday feeling a little puny, and had a half day of teaching ahead of me. Things did not get better as the day wore on, and I ended up in bed where I spent 17 of the next 19 hours. I’m still not functioning 100%, and things (like toes) ache.During my class, there were a couple of times I just wanted to quit. My head was beginning to go light, I couldn’t concentrate, and I certainly didn’t think I was at the top of my game. My voice began to show indications of an empty tank, and I really hoped there would be no questions so it would end as quickly as possible. The temptation — and usual response — is to throw out a caveat and alert your audience to the affliction besetting you. And not long ago, I’d have done just that. The problem is, your audience doesn’t care. They’re listening to you for value, and if you are sick, tired, sick and tired, demented, want to be there, don’t want to be there, have somewhere else to be, or are hopelessly in love so bad you can’t concentrate, all they want is the content and value delivered in the best possible way. Anything you throw out as an “explanation” of your performance is only construed as an excuse. They likely don’t know and don’t care, so bringing it to their attention can only be for your benefit and not their’s. Remember Rule #1…And this takes on other forms as well. Some of the jewels I’ve heard presenters launch forth with include:

  • I’m not really prepared for this
  • I got asked to do this at the last minute/I wish I had had more time to prepare
  • I’m probably not the person most qualified for this
  • My kids threw up all night/my dog ate my homework
  • Oops, I thought I had fixed that

Repeat after me: THEY DON’T CARE. And if they do care, it doesn’t matter with respect to what you need to accomplish. If they come up afterward and try to engage you in conversation or do notice, then you can bring it up and you’ll get their respect for pressing on. But if they haven’t noticed and you bring it up, it’s an excuse. And it doesn’t help your message.

Do your best and let your best stand (alone and without comment from you).

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