Some people enjoy drawing attention to themselves by trying to trip you up on a fact or statistic during your presentation. A few will find something you say threatening to their secure view of the universe and want you to know that ” You are dead wrong!!” When this happens it is important to remember that you won’t be able to please everyone in your audience and you shouldn’t try. I personally feel that if I don’t say something that afflicts the comfortable I’m not really doing my job effectively.
Here is how you minimize the possibility of an verbal attack coming from a member of your audience who is hell bent to show you the error of your ways. And it works extremely well most of the time. Yes, there are people who only hear what they want to hear and are just waiting for a chance to make themselves look cleaver by making you look foolish.
Here is what I say before I begin…
” I’m here to share with you my thoughts and opinions on (_________________). If I say something that rings true for you file it away for further consideration. If you disagree with one of my ideas or opinions that’s fine. Just dismiss it as the musing of a misguided soul. You might just want to take what rings true and disregard the rest. I am here to invite you to consider what I have to say. You must decide whether you will consume it whole or spit some of it out.”
This usually works for me but once in awhile you get someone who is so attached to their perception of reality that there is no room for an opposing opinion. Any disagreement is viewed as a total violation of all they whole sacred. This is sad, but true.
I believe that the search for truth is cumulative. When my perception of truth is added to yours then we come closer to THE truth. No one has a monopoly on truth or wisdom or insight.
If someone challenges you while you’re giving your talk and they begin to interfere with the flow of the presentation just say in a very calm voice, ” I would love to give more time to your ideas but I only have an hour to give my speech. If you see me at coffee break I will introduce you to the meeting planners and perhaps you can talk to them about hiring you to present at next year’s conference.” This always solves the problem.
In conclusion I want to say that this situation arises very seldom, but it does arise. When it does I hope these ideas are as helpful to you as they are to me.
Mike Moore is an international speaker on Humor in the Workplace, Humor and Stress, and Maximizing Staff Potential
He also writes and speaks on Public Speaking for Profit and Pleasure