A few weeks ago, I took a training at work. A key part of this training was doing little presentations and then getting feedback (fyi – sometimes this feedback was called feedforward…?..!)

Anywhoo – this feedforward was delivered gently via post-it note. The good stuff was written in a column with a “+” at the top. The bad stuff, as we learned (on day 1 hour 1) was NOT bad. It was simply something that could be “EBI” next time.

EBI? Even. Better. If.

Yes. This was the training for me.

The one and only catch in this cushy training was that we had to present stuff with only 14 seconds to prepare. This nuance counter-acted all awesomeness because it is, like, my greatest nightmare.

The first time, my presentation was right after lunch. So. I cheated and crammed while eating a turkey sandwich. The second time, I wasn’t so lucky. I had to present cold turkey.

Of course, I didn’t know what I was talking about and proceeded to make little mistake after little mistake. It must have been bad because after 4 minutes, the audience was actually hollering things out in an attempt to help me get back on track. Providing a little feedforward, shall we say?

I could see them scribbling things in their EBI columns and I almost lost it. “I didn’t have time to prepare!” I wanted to scream. “Let me have a do-over!”

But then, somehow, I realized that freaking out was probably a major EBI and so instead, I took a deep breath. I stopped talking. I took a minute to look each one of those helpful little creeps right in their earnest little eyeballs. They stopped writing their sassy little notes and looked right back at me. I said with my stare: I am in charge here.

And then. I started talking louder.

I started talking SUPER loud. I started pretending I knew what I was talking about and, despite clearly demonstrating my ignorance just two seconds earlier, this tactic seemed to be working.They were asking me questions. They were writing stuff under the +! I really was in charge.

In the end, there were barely any EBIs about my initial flub. Instead, I got all kinds of pluses for wrangling things back on track. One person even said, “I’m really glad you presented on this because I didn’t understand it before you started.” Ha.

The moral of the story: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, for God’s sake, pretend.