How do you review your speech while being kind to yourself?

So you had a public speaking fail. The applause fades and you step off the stage to greet the audience members gathered to speak to you. You may be thinking about moments during your presentation, and perhaps there are parts that you felt were not the best. At worse, you may feel deflated if things did not go as planned during your talk, It is very easy to plummet from a speakers’ high to the big dip in emotion, when you are not entirely happy with your performance.


“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practised, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie


It’s easy to dwell on the bad bits of a public speaking fail.

At a presentation I gave last year there were a couple of glitches; technical blips, nothing major but irritating and it took the shine off public speaking. I let it niggle at me during my presentation and by the time I finished speaking, I was feeling stymied and I allowed the negative self-talk to seep in.

After this experience, I felt drained. I knew that I was spending too much time dwelling on my performance and I wanted to be able to take back control.

I spoke to a mentor about this experience. He encouraged me to accept the shortcomings and, only think about what was within my control. Good advice for starters.

I decided to create boundaries around my post-speaking reflection, including a certain time to unpack it and, a time to let it go.

Here is my 5-step post-speaking reflection process after a public speaking fail:

Learn, seek to improve and be kind to yourself in the moment. You can learn a lot from your public speaking fail.


Once off stage, I often feel a rush of emotion and then become acutely aware of the need to attend to personal needs. I replenish with a drink and a high-energy snack. I may remove uncomfortable heels or touch up my lipstick. Whatever I need to do to take care of immediate physical needs. With the immediate taken care of it’s time to move onto the next step. Step 2 is an important one and that I used to forfeit when I felt those pangs of self-doubt.


I will stay and interact with the audience following my presentation. This may be chatting, taking photos, accepting thanks and expressing gratitude. Once I leave the event and return to my hotel room (or home if it’s local), I reward myself accordingly. It’s usually an eagerly awaited coffee (I avoid caffeine and dairy on the day of any talk), or if it is an evening function I may have a glass of wine (never before a presentation). Or it may be a brisk walk, a swim, or even a massage.

This is time to be thankful for a body that allows me to move and, a voice that carries my message. I focus only on positive, happy thoughts and gratitude.

Any inner critics are kicked off; they are not allowed to gatecrash this party. Only when I have spent time in the reward stage do I move to the next step. It may be the next day if I am tired or have other engagements, but as close to the presentation as possible. I may repeat the rest/reward stage more than once!


It’s now time to review my presentation post my public speaking fail. I allocated twenty minutes and by the end of this time, I have identified three actions that I can implement in order to improve my presentation for the next time.

I start off by asking myself what worked well. I write down three things and congratulate myself on the success. I then move on to think about the less than perfect parts, the areas in the speech I was not happy with. I write down three things.

I identify whether it was in my control or not. I make sure I am only moving forward with those things that are in my control.

Another speaker going over time resulting in my presentation time being halved or the MC reading out my bio along with someone else’s (both these things have happened to me) is not something  I had any control over.

If there are elements during my public speaking presentation that did not go well, and that was within my control, I  list these with an action for each that I will implement. I am now ready to move to the next stage.


With some actionable items documented on how I can improve my presentation, it is time to release the public speaking fail. A time to accept and let go of everything else except the tremendous gratitude I feel as a speaker, and the commitment to continue to learn and grow.


I am ready to refocus my energy on the next presentation I am going to give. Making sure I am kind to myself and remember that we get better at speaking by speaking more. A public speaking fail is just part of the process.

With a defined process of self-reflection and action Rest, Reward, Review, Release, and Refocus.  Here is a 3 minute YouTube video I made on the topic

As a storytelling expert, known as The Story Midwife, I help leaders to create compelling presentations through business storytelling.

Before becoming a Professional Speaker, I worked for over twenty years as a midwife.

I now live and breathe stories as a speaker, trainer, performer and coach.

As a World Class Speaking & Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver a captivating story for your business or brand. Whether it is the boardroom, podium or stage; I can show you how to develop a persuasive presentation with a compelling story that will be hard to forget by anyone who gets to experience it.

If you would like to find out about training for your team, I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me lisa@speakingsavvy.com.au or call +61 (0)438 902042.