Dealing with a Difficult Audience
and Tough Questions when Speaking in Public
During your presentation, if someone is being very disruptive then
you will not be alone in being vexed with them. People generally
behave with decency during presentations. If someone begins to make
sarcastic comments or interrupt, you have several options. You can:
- 1) At the start of your speech you can request that people raise their hand before any comments or questions or designate a specific time for questioning such as at the end.
- 2) If someone begins to interrupt or make asides you can politely remind them of your opening remarks. Most people will respond instantly to this.
- 3) If some one tells you they totally disagree with your point/points you can try to refute them or open the debate up to the wider audience where, more likely than not, others will defend your position for you. Remember, your job is merely to present ideas and information in a compelling way, not to get into arguments with one audience member at the expense of the others.
- 4) Admit you donít know something and promise to find out for them.
- 5) Tell them that you would like to come back to that point.
- 6) Ask them to come and see you afterwards for further discussion as you have limited time and much material to cover.
- 7) Stick to the main points of your speech. You donít have to answer questions immediately or on the questionerís terms. If people wish to side-line they can do it afterwards or during a break.
- 8) Remember: Itís not just about you justifying yourself to the audience. They carry half the responsibility in the situation. They are required to be polite, to listen to and absorb what you are saying, to ask relevant questions and to know when to keep quiet. Your responsibility extends only so far.
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