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How Do You Handle a Difficult Audience?

by | Jun 10, 2014

  1. Your group is distracted by their emails.
  2. You have a few participants talking to each other in the back of the room.
  3. You have interruptions – someone is leaving every few minutes to answer a phone call.

Welcome to reality in our multi-tasking world.

Before you, the speaker, get aggravated at the three situations above, think about today’s world from the audience’s perspective.

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation to a tech company. All three of these situations happened. Here’s why and here’s how to handle it.

Why: This tech company is all about staying in constant touch with their constituents. They had an email meltdown with their entire network and they HAD to deal with this crisis during my workshop. So they were distracted by their emails. They had to talk amongst themselves to figure out the solution. This caused several phone call interruptions.

How to handle a difficult audience:

  1. Empathize. Find out what’s really going on. These problems may have nothing to do with you and your presentation.
  2. Improvise. Use the issues to support your topic matter. We were just talking about how to build credibility by the way you communicate. I called a Time Out Break and told them to use the skills we had just covered in their phone conversations with their constituents.
  3. Organize. Whether you have a ton of distractions OR a calm and committed crowd – you have to have compelling substance, strategy and style.

Karen Cortell Reisman, M.S., author of 3 books and President of Speak For Yourself®, works with organizations on how to communicate to make more money. It’s all in how you speak for yourself. Read more at www.SpeakForYourself.com/blog/


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