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Effective Presentations to Hostile Audiences

        posted by , December 01, 2012

Presentations to hostile audiences can be very tough. It's never going to be easy but these 7 rules of thumb may help.

1. The fundamentals still apply

Relax and take a deep breath — everything you have learned about giving effective presentations still holds true.

You might even want to try an ice breaker (if appropriate). A joke about the tension level in the room etc...

2. Stay on track

A hostile audience may try to derail your presentation. Plan for challenges and prepare strategies to get your presentation back on track.

The direct approach is often effective — if you don't mind I would like to continue, there will be ample time for all of your questions.

Another approach is to answer a interruptive question with a segue back to your presentation.

3. Point out common ground

Emphasize common ground and try to win the sympathies of the audience (while still holding your ground).

4. Be polite and composed

If the audience gets heated and emotional — don't sink to their level. Try to remain outwardly composed. Always be polite — it gives you the higher ground.

5. Answer questions honestly and directly

Answering questions from a hostile audience is always challenging. Consider keeping the Q&A session short.

Listen closely and repeat the question if it is unclear. Give a brief and direct answer. Don't be led into answering yes or no if you would prefer to give context.

6. Manage difficult audience members

Don't allow a audience member to get on their soapbox. Answer one question and move on to questions from other audience members.

Transitions such as — does anyone else have a question? — can be effective.

7. Have the last word

Go out on a strong note — summarizing your points with confidence and conviction.

This is the 9th installment in the 9-part series of posts called How to Give Magnetic Presentations.

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