03 Jun

Dealing with a challenging audience

Dealing with a challenging audience can add additional stress to the presentation-giving process. Accordingly, if you are a speaker who does not have the audience’s backing, you are undoubtedly prepared to go to any lengths to win them over.

Although it is your chance to demonstrate your abilities, a jokester, loudmouth, non-participants, or side-conversationalists may divert your attention.

Regardless of the motivation, we have all witnessed how audience members who feel the need to draw attention to themselves may ruin an excellent presentation. The next time you give a presentation to a challenging crowd, use these tactics to stay in control.

Step 1: Greet and Acknowledge Your Audience

Spending time greeting your audience before you even start speaking is the best approach to win them over. About 15 to 20 minutes before your presentation is scheduled to start, make sure everything is set up properly.

If anybody you don’t know enters, say hello and introduce yourself. You will get some allies if you take the time to welcome your audience since you never know when the challenging audience member will decide to show up.

Step 2: Set the Rules…. ONSET!

It can be beneficial to establish some ground rules before you start your presentation. For instance, you could want to request that attendees turn off their cellphones. You might also inform the audience that you’ll be taking inquiries after the presentation, so save your queries for the end. By establishing these guidelines, you can show the audience who is in charge and maybe stop some of the more annoying actions.

Step 3: Put a little PUN in, but hit the spot directly.

An audience member may occasionally feel the need to assume the role of “the expert” during a lecture. Almost everything you say may elicit a response or further explanation from them. Try handling this scenario with a little humor rather than coming out defensive. The phrase “Wow, I didn’t know that” comes to mind.

If the behavior persists, you might reply, “Well, you have such a wealth of knowledge on the subject I should just exchange seats with you.” This enables you to address the problem calmly so you can get back on track. For the audience member who keeps telling jokes, you could say, “You are really stealing my show and if I don’t stop you, I’m going to lose my audience. We wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?”

Step 4: Ignore them Bad Attitudes!

We have observed the participant who, for whatever reason, exhibits a pessimistic outlook. They are seated, their head is down, and their arms and legs are crossed. They are obviously showing an attitude of “I don’t care.” Simply ignoring this kind of audience member is the best course of action.

There is no use in attempting to modify their attitude as you will only be speaking for a short period. Your presentation should aim to connect with the majority of your audience as effectively as possible.

Trainer speaking to a class at the office.

Step 5: Try the QUIET game!

There will always be audience members who can’t help but speak up, no matter how annoying they may be. These talkative bystanders ignore your efforts and chatter on during your presentation.

One of the greatest methods to deal with this is to pause momentarily and look over your notes or the crowd. That brief period of silence frequently serves as a cue for those folks to stop talking.

Step 6: FOCUS is the key!

Keep your attention on your subject and what you were there to discuss, no matter how challenging your audience may be. Don’t let your audience captivate you and take your attention away from your presentation. Instead, keep your composure and confidence, and you will deliver a professional presentation.

close up of woman pointing finger to eye

In the world of public speaking, a challenging audience can make all the difference. The pressure of winning them over can add significant stress to the process. However, if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll do whatever it takes to capture their attention.

Unfortunately, there are always those who try to steal the spotlight with jokes or side conversations. These attention-seeking antics can be distracting, and they often overshadow an excellent presentation. To combat this, follow these tactical tips to stay in control and keep your audience engaged.

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