Call 24 Hours: 1.888.222.5847

Speaking tip: don’t say sorry like Anna Christine on AGT

anna christine on AGTAs an author or aspiring author, there are many benefits to getting on stage and speaking: getting known, sharing your message with a bigger audience and really connecting with your followers.

One of the most important pieces of advice I received as a member of Toastmasters International  is to never apologize for how you’re feeling or let on how uncomfortable, awkward, afraid, anxious or unprepared you are.  If you don’t say anything it’s very likely they won’t even be aware of it. 

If you do say something, it gives them something else to focus on other than your performance. They’ll be thinking about what you did wrong or perhaps will be feeling sorry for you – and you don’t want this! You want their full attention on you and your message.

Anna Christine, who is just 11 years old, had an incredible performance on America’s Got Talent 2013 semi finals, singing “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”  She received a standing ovation but as soon as she finished, she had this really uncomfortable look on her face and said “I got off time…I couldn’t hear the track that well.”

Although this is a singing performance and she apologized AFTER her performance, this is a great example of what NOT to do

You can watch her performance and apology here

Howard Stern even said to her: “Anna, this is the world of show business. I would recommend that you don’t walk out and tell people you made a mistake. It isn’t apparent to everyone. You are remarkable, remarkable, remarkable! You’re a rare talent.”

Lisa Braithwaite, Public speaking coach & trainer, says: “You are ten times more sensitive to your own insecurities, and the audience likely has no clue that you feel uncomfortable – for whatever reason.”

Fortunately Anna’s beautiful voice and raw talent was enough and she was voted through to the next round. She is one of my favorites and I’m thrilled!

19 Responses so far.

  1. Thanks for the mention, Trudy. Great post and message. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves!

  2. Shari Mitteco says:

    I love this post because it’s so easy to be hard on ourselves and “self destruct”. If we just keep going, doing our best in the moment we would have such better success!

  3. PJ Van Hulle says:

    Great post, Trudy!

    When I’m speaking from stage (or even on a teleclass or webinar), I often catch myself saying “um” or “so” as filler words, and it drives me crazy when I put too much attention on it. But if I were to point it out to my audience, now they’d be focusing on my filler words instead of the transformational message that they came to receive.

    It makes me sad when other speakers or performers give some kind of disclaimer before they start (like, “I’ve had this cold, so I’ll do my best) because I think it puts people in the frame of mind to find what’s wrong with the speaker instead of simply enjoying the experience. They might even feel cheated of that speaker’s best. But if the speaker doesn’t bring it up, the chances are that no one would notice and the audience would probably have a better experience.


    PJ Van Hulle
    Real Prosperity, Inc.

    “Have Fun. Do Good. Make Money.”

  4. Jessica says:

    This is so true! I’ve never apologized but early in my speaking career I misjudged an audience member and it affected my presentation. I thought that he was bored and tried to engage him. Finally, I gave up trying and then to my surprise, at the end he approached me and said it was the most informative seminar he’d ever attended. So no apologies and no judging your own performance based on your audience 🙂

  5. Heidi Alexandra Pollard says:

    You could study audience science for years and still not be able to really pick the reactions of each audience member until you asked them. Great example we can all learn from

  6. I agree, never apologize before or after a presentation. Stay focused on your message no matter what and your audience will likely do the same. We are so much harder on ourselves than others are.

  7. Sue Painter says:

    Great post, I just feel so bad for nervous speakers who get up in front of an audience and say “I’m nervous.” Maybe they know it but maybe they don’t – take a deep breath and hold forth!

  8. Bill Painter says:

    Good advice. I have heard this from several people. Speaking is like walking into a lion cage. Never show fear or they will turn on you.

  9. Betsy Baker says:

    Love Anna Christine too, Trudy! I love the point you make about not apologizing or even admitting that you’re nervous about speaking because the whole time I’m just going to feel sorry for you rather than concentrating on what you’re speaking about. 🙁

  10. Mitch Tublin says:

    A quality tip for speakers at any level. Know your audience and no need to feel sorry or be sorry.

  11. Trudy – I agree! We are our own worst critics and are hyper-sensitive to what we do wrong … when in reality, often times no one else would ever know!

    It reminds me of what my daughter’s dance teacher says, “No matter what, smile and have fun. Don’t ever acknowledge a mistake. Just keep going. The audience doesn’t know your routine, so chances are no one noticed the mistake but you!”

  12. I 100% agree! There are all kinds of things that I may be insecure about when I am filming an exercise video. But if I stand there and tell people about how my hair looks bad and how I’d love some botox and my thighs this and my arms that, then I’d never get anything done. Instead, I’ve come to realize that a few flaws that we embrace can enhance who we are and what we do. So I’m good with mine now, but it took a while. That also goes for saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, whatever. If I try to be perfect, then that’s not really me. And I value authenticity, but not so much perfection. Thanks for the post!