Stuff Happens

Man digging in desert

Last week, Elon Musk of Tesla was served a lesson in humility. In Los Angeles, he launched his new Cybertruck, touting features like its unbreakable armor glass. To prove the claim, his lead designer threw a metal ball at the truck's window, which promptly smashed. Figuring the first breakage was an anomaly, the designer threw another ball. The second window also smashed.

Musk was standing by as the cameras rolled and the live audience gasped. It could have gone badly, but Musk stepped up. After the first window broke he said "Oh, my (beep) g-d. Well, maybe that was a little too hard." Then after the second break, he said "Room for improvement." He didn't try to disappear or pretty it up. It was an honest response and made Musk easy to forgive.

There is no question that stuff will happen when you present. Be ready and expect it. The gracefulness and candor you exhibit when things go awry is critical. One thing is certain; your audience of one or many will remember the mistake, but even more, how you recovered, or dug yourself into a deeper hole. Throw away the shovel, have a laugh with your audience, and live to fight another day.

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