I fucked up and did a talk about it.

Failure is a critical part of growth. FuckUpNight is a global movement where stories about business failure are shared monthly. At a recent FuckUpNight I had an opportunity to share a story of failure and what communicators can learn from it.

It had been a while since I prepped for a talk of this kind. Planning started months ago as I began to map out the narrative for the story I wanted to tell. Along the way I found myself conflating two ideas which resulted in a murky and unfocused narrative. While both stories are strong in their own right, trying to combine them into a single talk was weakening both of them. It can be difficult to cut bait and shelf a great story - I found myself trying to cling on to telling both, but I knew I had to let one go.

Once I’d zeroed in on the core story, it was time to shape the talk. This took several drafts. In an early draft, I was trying to build up to my fuck up moment. I found this to be taking too long and I feared I would lose the audience along the way. So I employed a storytelling technique to hook the audience in from the start and then build up to the that fateful moment.

When it came to practicing, I began rehearsing about 5-days out using techniques I’d refined when I would prep for hour-long keynote presentations to launch new products at BlackBerry. This helped me build confidence in the material so much so that I could focus on nailing my delivery instead of focusing on whether I’d freeze up when I took the stage.

For the most part the presentation went smoothly (save a glitch playing my video). I was thrilled to get positive feedback from other attendees - they loved the story and felt connected to it. It had been a while since I’d been on stage doing a talk but it felt great to be back!

If you want to learn the tools I used to plan, practice and deliver my FuckUpNight talk, join me at the next presentation skills masterclass series happening this September in Waterloo. Learn more and book your spot here.

Jeff Gadway