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How to make an effective apology – and get on with things. Great lesson from #Rugby coverage

Here’s a good way to make an effective apology and smoothy move on to the next thing.

SM BC apology

I saw a great example of the technique used during the coverage of Bledisloe Cup II at Eden Park – and it helped diffuse my anger at poor performance during the coverage. I’m talking about the poor audio quality at a crucial time when I really wanted to hear!

I enjoy watching the Rugby and hearing what the expert commentators have to say.

At half time Stirling Mortlock was talking with Kurtley Beale – but the audio was terrible and crackly and intermittent.


Then there were great slow motion shots of highlights and experts talking – but there was no sound. And I really wanted to hear what they were saying. I got very cranky.

Then they came back and host Scott Mackinnon gave a strategically swift apology – that, in my opinion, moved on smoothly to the action of the next thing.


Here’s roughly what he said. Note the smooth move on to the next thing – getting on with it.

We’d just like to apologise for the audio issues we had at half-time.
We have sorted them out. Let’s hope the Wallabies can sort out their second half as well.
Let’s go straight back to the expert commentary team.

Here’s why I reckon it is such a good example – and how you can use this technique too.

TB LL mosaic

I often help business presenters be prepared with a “bag of tricks” to help them recover if/when things go wrong in a presentation. I also help organisations word and practise delivering apologies. Yes, at a top level, execs prepare for when things go wrong!

When you need to apologise, remember:

1. Your audience will usually appreciate an apology (even a brief one) if they have been inconvenienced. TICK TO THE ABOVE EXAMPLE.

2. Your audience likes to know you’ve take action to fix a problem so it doesn’t happen again. TICK

3. Don’t loiter or linger for too long on the negative – the past of what went wrong. The above apology seems to move from the apology to the next thing almost “in the same breath”. BIG TICK! I often encourage clients to move on in the same sentence (with a conjunction, joining word)

4. Have something positive to move on to. TICK. In a presentation – you’ll have some specially selected positive snippet of information to move on to after your apology.

Now, we can all use this simple apology model/structure. You don’t have to be a commentator in some major sporting event.

Just remember this simple structure or order:

1. Brief Apology
2. Brief Assurance of action taken to correct
3. Smoothly and swiftly move on to something more positive – with some linking words and preferably “in the same breath” or sentence”
4. Keep moving forward – get on with it.


Thanks Scott for such a good example of an apology!

My dissatisfaction dissipated. Plus, I got more than an just an apology from you – I got a great example of how to smoothly word and deliver an apology.

boys and balls

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These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.



One comment on “How to make an effective apology – and get on with things. Great lesson from #Rugby coverage

  1. efangelist
    April 12, 2017

    Reblogged this on efangelist and commented:

    An earlier post – a great example of a swift and smooth apology!

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