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what to do when things go wrong, mrs brown, live studio audience

What to do when things go wrong

Delivering a speech live can be nerve-racking.

But what’s it like to deliver lines in front of a studio audience?

And what happens when you trip over your words?

I watched a professional at the top of his game this week.

As Brendan O’Carroll brushed off mistakes.

From the mouth of his TV persona, Mrs. Brown.

So what did I learn from watching up close?

What to do when things go wrong.

Dealing with mistakes

dealing with mistakes, what to do when things go wrong, mrs brown

Being a comic actor recording a programme “as live” is one thing.

And it’s entirely different from speaking to a conference.

Or pitching for business.

But one thing will bond all these experiences.

Things will go wrong.

Our success is shaped by our ability to deal with the slip-ups, memory losses and technical glitches.

So here’s three winning habits used by Brendan in the BBC Scotland studio recording last week.

Number 1: When things go wrong, laugh

when things go wrong laugh, mrs brown, what to do when things go wrong

Now I appreciate this is comedy.

And business is more serious.

But the business leaders I admire have a sense of humour.

So when things went wrong in All Round to Mrs Browns, the actors laughed.

At themselves.

So when you take a step in the wrong direction when making a speech:

Laugh it off.

And the audience will laugh with you.

Number 2: Perfect is an illusion

what to do when things go wrong, eamonn holmes ruth langsford

I was at the recording at the invitation of some TV friends.

Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford were guesting on the show.

Afterwards I discussed with them just how easily the cast coped with mistakes.

Here’s what Eamonn had to say:

“I learned one rule early on about live TV.

“Avoid it looking like a pre-recorded show.

“The audience appreciates things go wrong.

“So laugh them off, and just be human.”

We all strive to get it right.

But perfect is an illusion.

So settle for excellent.

And bounce back from mistakes.

Number 3: Pick up where you left off with high energy

Presentation skills, How to Involve Your Audience, Bill McFarlan, what to do when things go wrong

Many people find their confidence dented when things go wrong in a pitch or a speech.

Many things went wrong for me when I presented live TV for 22 years.

But you just need to carry on.

With the same level of energy and enthusiasm that came before the tumble.

Our message is the same to clients.

On presentation skills courses.

Crisis management courses.

And media training courses.

Both at our Glasgow studios.

And in training courses we run across the world.

In the 25 countries we’ve visited on business.

Laugh off your mistakes.

It will be imperfect, and that’s OK.

Keep the enthusiasm high to the end.

That’s how you convince and audience.

That’s how you win business.

And that’s how you record a top-rated show.


Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can read his full profile here.


Images courtesy of BBC and ITV.

12th February 2020 Featured in: Blog, Presentation skills training blogs By:

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