Respectfully Yours: Public speaker
From time to time my job requires me to give presentations. Public speaking makes me uncomfortable and I find it difficult to hide my nervousness. I found adequately preparing and practice makes presenting less difficult. However, I was not prepared for an encounter with a rude individual. Recently, I was presenting at an event and was interrupted by an obnoxious individual in the audience. This individual was shaking their head in disapproval over a key point I was making. To my horror and to make matters worse, this person was sitting with some very influential audience members. I halted my presentation, acknowledged the individual, and listened to the issue. I was able to interject my thoughts and seemingly got them to stop shaking their head. Luckily, I did not entirely lose my composure. I successfully proceeded to continue with the rest of my presentation. Did I handle this situation correctly or should I have simply ignored that person?
I commend you for continuing to polish your public speaking skills. You are definitely on the right path. Preparation and practice are key
to a fabulous presentation.
When we learn the material and own it, we come across as a confident and credible speaker. The goal is to be confident and engage the audience.
The fear of public speaking is common and it gets exasperated when we encounter a person that makes us lose our composure. At some point in your presentation career you meet that special someone who will challenge you. I refer to these individuals affectionately as hecklers.
The good news is you can earn their respect when you handle the situation properly. This particular individual was testing you. The best way to handle the individual who wants extra attention is by adapting and connecting with them.
Sometimes simply walking over and standing next to the difficult person, invading their personal space, is enough to disarm them. Saying something like “Thank you for your input” shows you heard them and can handle their misbehavior in a professional manner.
You maintained control of the room by diffusing the situation, gaining the respect of your audience. Bravo!
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of Jacquelyn Youst Etiquette Consulting, specializing in protocol training. She works with the National Civility Foundation.
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