When Goof-Ups happen?

When Goof-Ups happen?

What happens when one of the biggest and popular shows on television make a very noticeable goof-up on one of its prime episodes? This is exactly what happened to supposedly world’s no. 1 show, “Game of Thrones”.

Game of Thrones is down to its final season with only a few episodes left building up to its grand finale.

This show is famous for its gut-wrenching plots and twists with extreme attention to details in its storytelling convincing us all that dragons are real, white walkers can lead to the end of humanity, and winter is coming.

If you have seen one of its latest episodes, you’ll know exactly where this is heading. In this specific episode, a Starbucks coffee cup could be seen in the background on the dining table near Daenerys Targaryen. It was hard to fathom that Starbucks was the choice of coffee in this imaginary ancient time. This major goof-up left many of the fans upset; some were even amused by the presence of Starbucks in Winterfell. Needless to say, social media didn’t delay in flooding the internet with jokes, puns, memes, and even angry messages towards this one blunder made on the show.

This was clearly a mistake. One can imagine that HBO and the makers of Game of Thrones, who spent millions of dollars creating an episode to make it perfect to the core and getting every detail correct, must have been horrified and embarrassed by the proportion of the blow out of this goof-up. However, instead of being red-faced about this, HBO made an official statement stating that “the latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”

What a tongue-in-cheek response!

Personally, I fell in love with this statement not only because they acknowledged their mistake but they also went ahead to make a joke about it that everyone would enjoy and relish, just like a Starbucks coffee. The immediate response to this statement: the backlash minimized post the statement released by HBO. How can one make fun of something that is already self-deprecating?

There is a lesson in this for all of us. Mistakes happen, and we all make them. But, if you are bold enough to admit it, maybe even go a step further and make a joke about it, then, nobody might even remember your mistake. They will, however, remember how you managed it intelligently. You’ll thus be remembered for the humor and not the mistake.

This is a very relevant thing to remember especially, in the field of public speaking. Many things can go wrong while you are on stage. I am no different; this kind of stuff has happened to me as well.

When I was in Athens last year for the European finals of a public speaking competition, I forgot my closing line. All this time of preparation, multiple rehearsals, and I still blacked out. This can be really scary especially when you have 500 pair of eyes staring directly at you waiting for your next line. Thanks to my lucky stars and presence of mind, I was saved when I quickly made a tongue-in-cheek remark asking my audience to remind me of my closing line. This resulted in an uproar of laughter giving me a few seconds to remember and recollect my thought thus helping me deliver my closing statement. A year later, nobody remembers my blackout; they, however, remember me as the funny guy who made them laugh.

With this, let me present to you three of the most common goof-ups on stage and how to handle them:

Blackouts – This is perhaps one of the most common goof-ups on stage. A blackout can be a nerve-wracking moment and it happens to most of us. Many of you can recollect at least one occasion on which they have faced a moment of a blackout. This is what the pressure of entertaining can do to you. The constant striving to make a mark on your audience, to be at the peak of your performance, or having too many things to say can be some of the reasons causing a person to blackout. So, what do you do when faced by a blackout?

If you ever blackout or forget your line, always try and make a self-deprecating joke. A little humor goes a long way. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Looks l am getting old and forgetting
  • This is what happens when I miss my morning coffee
  • Oh sorry, I just remembered to pick up my dry cleaning. I am sure this must have happened to you.

There may also be a chance that humor may not be the first thing on your mind when you blackout. Many people deal with stress differently. In moments like these, it is okay to accept that you have blacked out for a second; maybe go for that sip of water to digress or simply accept that you need a moment to recollect the perfect line apt for this situation. It is important to show humility. Do it with a smile and remember not to swear or play the blame game if you blackout.

IT catastrophe – Ahh! Another common scenario. This happens almost too frequently. As humans, we are unpredictable; why should the technology we create be any different? Technology has made our lives easier and comfortable; if you look at it, it is definitely an asset.

But, sometimes, it can just be a pain to deal with. Your microphone may stop working, your projector may blackout instead of you, or your laptop may just go kaput. Trust me, it is really a patience-testing and frustrating moment when this happens to a speaker. We have so many ideas; we have the audience swaying in our rhythm, and at this very right moment, technology may fail you. So, what should you do when faced by an IT catastrophe?

The most important lesson here is to be calm. Your anxiety will only lead you to complicate matters more. You may face a blackout stressing about the situation. Look at that; one problem may lead you to another! There may be nothing that you can do to make it right.

So, ask for assistance, and wait for the technician to head your way and make it right. As they fix your IT issue, you can engage your audience in a dialogue. You can feel free to continue with your topic so that they don’t lose interest. You can perhaps also do an impromptu rendezvous with your audience by asking them questions, asking participation, or digress a bit. It is a good idea to bring up a topic that is in the news. But make sure that the news is not too sensitive to get people to discuss or debate, like the Royal baby or the Game of Thrones Starbucks coffee cup.

Unforeseen situation – Alright, this may seem a bit vague! What happens if a speaker trips and falls during the speech? Remember Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars? It has happened to me too. When I was at a workshop, I tripped and fell in front of my audience. So, what should you do when faced by such an unforeseen situation?

The best thing you can do is collect yourself as gracefully as you can. Next, you can signal your audience telling them you are okay. Then, take a sip of water; it helps you relax your muscles and deal with the situation. The last step is always to go with humor. You could perhaps say, “Oh! Did you guys see the fall I just took? That was hilarious. Glad I still have all my bones intact.”

In my case, I told my audience, “Woah! That felt like bungee jumping.” That brought about a few laughs and here I was ready to continue my speech again.

The bottom line is we are all bound to make mistakes, goof-ups, or blunders sometime during our life. It is only a matter of when. What matters is the stride we take it in and how to be best ready for it when it happens. So, let’s not be afraid to make one, as long as we know that we have our wit to turn around the situation just like we can turn our frown upside down.


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Lithuania calling this October. Really happy that I will be speaking at the PMI Congress in Lithuania on how to survive adversity. In my talk, I will share my idea on why we need a plan B and how to choose and make your Plan B.