Why Sean Spicer’s Hitler flub should make you feel BETTER about your fear of making a mistake while behind the podium, not worse….
It’s been a crazy week for corporate and Presidential communications. From the passenger beating debacle at United Airlines to Pepsi’s misguided attempt at a long-form Black Lives matter ad (which had short run), saying and DOING the wrong thing was popular. But Tuesday, President Trump’s spokesperson Sean Spicer climbed to the top of the heap and said perhaps the biggest (if not simply LATEST) wrong thing. During a White House briefing in which he was answering questions about US military action against Syrian positions, he compared Adolf Hitler to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. Favorably.
Spicer has since apologized (which is all you can DO in a situation like this), but various Washington types are calling for his head. Nancy Pelosi, representatives at the Anne Frank Museum, and other groups are calling for him to be fired. That’s not likely, or perhaps even warranted. No matter what happens to Sean Spicer, or to the Pepsi Creative Director or the CEO at United for that matter, the lesson for the average person is clear.
Your stage is not that large, your spotlight is not as bright. You are free to make a mistake while behind your podium, and though you should prepare so that you DON’T, remember that 99.99% o mistakes made while speaking are not as fatal as these three public gaffes. They never will be.
Your mistake could be in preparing an inappropriate set of comments. It could be in your delivery. Worst, it could be factual. You may misquote someone, give an incorrect set of figures, or recall an anecdote incorrectly..
If you realize it, correct it.
Do it from the podium the day of the speech, or in written form to the requester of the speech if it is on a day that follows.
Do your best to make it right. Vow to prepare better the next time. And move on.
It may cost you a contract, a second speaking engagement, or with some of your audience, a measure of credibility. It wont’ have a worldwide ripple effect and become a trending topic on twitter.
For that, you can be grateful.