Resistant dynamics can be found in any audience. Here are three essential techniques to stay sane as a presenter.
1. Check Yourself.
Ask yourself: What am I feeling about this audience? Why? What’s the worst that could happen?
Prepare yourself emotionally and physically. Make sure you’ve had enough to eat, and drink plenty of water. If you find yourself going “on stage” expecting the worst, or not being prepared for many questions and challenges, you set yourself up for failure.
2. Don’t Let the Hostile Faces Hook You.
Your goal is to present to the best of your ability, to everyone in the room. Don’t get emotionally connected to the few unhappy audience members.
Acknowledge and respect the dynamics in the room. Detach from them. Most likely, these have nothing to do with you.
3. Present as if Everyone Were Uncommitted.
I borrow from Don Pfarrer’s book, Guerilla Persuasion, for this incredibly helpful final tip. I’ve used it often, to great success.
Assume that every audience is comprised of four different groups. Each group is either friendly to your message, hostile, indifferent, or simply uncommitted.
Here’s the strategy: Focus on the uncommitted. In this way, you will successfully address everyone in the audience. By focusing on the uncommitted, you will construct and present your message more thoroughly and persuasively.
All 4 Audience Segments Benefit When You Focus on the Uncommitted.
|Audience Segment||What Do They Want From Listening to You?
||Dangers of Focusing Only on This Segment
||How This Segment Benefits When You Focus on the Uncommitted|
|“Friendlies”||Satisfaction, affinity.||Too easy — you may assume too much.||Their knowledge and commitment is deepened.|
|“Hostiles”||To see you fail.||Increases your own defensiveness. You may come off abrasively and unlikable.||They experience human respect, openness and reason from you (and are likely to mirror the behavior).|
|“Indifferents”||To be left alone and unchanged.||You may tie yourself up into knots trying get a response.||They may get the message, while not being hammered by you.|
|“Uncommitteds”||To experience a reasoned, well-thought-out, good-natured exposure to the issues.||NONE!||They get the best of YOU: affinity and reason. You won’t cut corners by assuming support where it might not exist.|
The bottom line is: KNOW YOUR STUFF. Be ready for questions and challenges. By checking yourself, not getting “hooked” by hostility, and focusing on the Uncommitted, you take great strides towards more resiliency and professionalism as a presenter.