You just delivered your Signature Speech, got off stage and now there’s a line of people waiting to talk to you about what you just shared.
Inevitably, someone will compliment you on some aspect of your speech and you might be tempted to say “thanks but…”
“Thanks, but I really could have delivered the close better.”
“Thanks, but some people seemed pretty zoned out.”
“Thanks, but I felt really off today and to the people who know me, it showed.”
I am personally guilty of all these, which would be how I know what might come to mind. 😉
Now, if you grew up like me, with someone in your life who asked you, “Who do you think you are…,” you may have a difficult time accepting praise. Or if you’re a church-going person, you undoubtedly heard many times in your life that humility and modesty are important traits. You might even feel guilty when someone gives you a compliment that you don’t think you deserve.
So it may feel only natural to deflect a compliment because it feels like the humble thing to do. In some speakers’ minds, the alternative is to imply boastfully, “Yep, you’re right. I rocked it and I know it.”
Yet, here’s why that’s a mistake. When you deflect someone’s compliment, it’s not about YOU. It’s about THEM. It’s like saying to that person, “Thanks, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s actually hurtful to the person. Now instead of feeling like they did something nice by telling you what they enjoyed about your presentation, your response could lead to them feeling badly.
You didn’t create a connection. You broke it. (ouch)
All that warmth and rapport you spent your Signature Speech building up? It can be gone in an instant.
Here’s what to do instead:
Whether you agree with someone giving you a compliment, remember it’s not about you at all. It’s about THEM. So acknowledge the compliment and then say something about THEM. Here’s what I say,
“Thank you! You are so kind. I appreciate it.”
And end it there. You don’t need to go any further. You get to maintain the connection you worked to create (after all, you never know where your next speech referral is going to come from!), and you didn’t act boastful in any way. In fact, you appear gracious, and that will continue to build the connection you started by being on the stage that day. YAY YOU!