I bombed my presentation but a lady came to my rescue

Usually I’m comfortable at public speaking. When I worked for Yelp I had to make a lot of pitches and give a lot of presentations. One time I was booked by a bank to speak at their business luncheon. It was hosted in a smart Dublin hotel. It was white linen covered tables type of affair. It was sea of mainly middle-aged business men in their grey suits… basically clones of my Dad.


It came my turn to speak, something I had done so many times before. I remember it was my last day of work before I went on holiday so I was upbeat and excited for the workday to end.


I took to the podium like I had so many times before. My presentation was ready to go, a presentation that I knew off by heart from all the years delivering it. A presentation that twice a year Yelp’s PR team quizzed us on. They would video us then coach us to perfection.

On that day when I tried to speak the words would not come out. Panic overtook me. I wanted to run out of that conference room. It was awful. I felt foolish at my over-confidence. I never before had experienced “stage-fright” but that was exactly what was happening. I felt stuck in a timeless place. Then I started to perspire. My mouth went dry. My breathing quickened.


A lady came to my rescue. She probably doesn’t remember what she did for me but all these years later I still do, and I think about it sometimes like now. Jenny Taaffe, CEO & cofounder of iZest Marketing had given her presentation before me. She gave it with ease and confidence. The audience was engaged. Honestly, I was jealous of how easy she made it look. You could tell she loved what she was doing.


As I stood frozen. She dashed up to the podium, gave me water and encouraging words. I took a deep breath and began. It wasn’t the best presentation of my career but I got through albeit with a shaky voice that would make Elvis proud.


Throughout the whole presentation Jenny made eye contact with me, she smiled to will me along and it worked. Afterwards she was first up to congratulate me on a great presentation, trust me it wasn’t great.


I don’t know Jenny. That was my first and only time to meet her. I have taken great pleasure in seeing her business grow and grow. Only last week a friend of mine told me that he is joining iZest Marketing. I was and am delighted for him. As I said to him, in that one interaction I had with her all those years ago I learned so much about her as a business person. She pays attention to detail, has empathy, and is a motivator.


I think it’s important to reflect on gestures like that that have happened through your career. Have you got any that you’d like to share?

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