Failures and Success

*This is part two of my series about how to inspire your audience when doing a presentation. Part one was about honesty and you can read it here

When it comes to failure, it’s not usually the first topic to come to mind when invited to make a business presentation. Many times you’re going to be presenting to a group of people who have paid to see you talk about your chosen subject, and when someone pays you to speak, it’s doubtful that they want to hear anything else other than the moment that you succeeded.

History would disagree with that line of thinking. History would show you that failure is just another step towards success. History tells you to stand up and admit your failures, and then tell your audience how it lead you down the path towards the reasons you’ve been asked to stand up in front of everyone. Here are three other people that would tell you failures matter and why.

“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.”Woody Allen

Failure makes for progressive thought and actions. With failure, we learn how to create and push the boundaries of what is commonly accepted as normal and how to push the boundaries of what can make things great. If we refuse to fail then we refuse to grow.

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” - Henry Ford

Believe it or not, failing at something can be a light at the end of a tunnel. Whether it’s a business venture or something you tried personally it’s not about always about being perfect.Sometimes, it’s about taking small steps, sometimes in the wrong ones, to make you wake up and realize that you need a change or to try something different.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

Getting a good idea to a great idea sometimes means you have to look back at a failure and see what you can do differently. There can be a very simple piece of the puzzle missing that can turn your failure into success. Apple is the perfect example of a company that used a failure to find a better plan. Remember the MessagePad (AKA The Newton)? Without that failed device it’s possible that we would have never had the iPhone.

Not all failures are bad, just like not all successes are great. You can inspire an audience with admitting your failures just as quickly as you can by expressing your successes. Failures are truth and human, and when we try something, it’s not always the outcome we want at first. The inspiration is in the story and how you learned.

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