As a sailor, I ran aground more than once. I even spent a few uncomfortable nights with my keel stuck on a sandbar, waiting for the next high tide to float me off.

Whenever a fellow mariner bragged that they'd never run aground, I knew they were speaking not from prowess but from inexperience.

Every sailor runs aground sooner or later.

I shared that with a colleague and he suggested it was the same for speakers.

No matter how good you are as a presenter, sooner or later, you'll bomb.
When a tells me they've never bombed, I know that's the voice of inexperience talking. Bombing is a rite of passage.

A few years later, I arrived at 730 AM for an 8 o'clock .

I'd allowed 90 minutes to make the drive there in case there was traffic.

I was tired, the audience was tired, and as I sketched out my ideas on paper flip-charts, I could feel the lack of energy in the room.

I've finally done it! I bombed!

Well, I knew it was a rite of passage, but as you'd expect, it didn't feel good.

Though I couldn't be certain, I suspected that—aside from the early hour damping the enthusiasm—that my younger audience didn't like my paper charts. These were “people of the pixel,” and they didn't appreciate the “old professor's lecture.”

Since then, I've always presented with beautiful or no at all—and though I suppose it could happen again, I haven't bombed since that day.

Every sailor runs aground sooner or later.

Maybe you'll get to be that Sunday morning presenting to a group of hard-partying reps who would really rather be in bed.

Or maybe the stars will just align against you some day.

When the inevitable happens, embrace the and learn what you can from it.

And then put another tick mark on the brim of your speaking cap.

Bombing is a rite of passage!