PodiumWise | Tips for advanced presentation skills

In a workshop I conducted this week the participants were particularly interested in learning how to handle an antagonistic audience member.

They were surprised when one of my recommendations was to ask the rest of the audience members if they share the same concerns expressed by the antagonist.  It sounds like an invitation to more trouble.

In fact, even if many others are also unhappy, there is an advantage to having more participants in the discussion.  The speaker can shift into the role of facilitator and move the discussion around the room.  There is an indirect power and control in facilitation that can temporarily take the place of direct speaker control.

The situation becomes more complex but it provides more options.  Reasonable voices can be favored, contradictions exploited, and–as terrible as it may sound–audience members played off one another.  The fluidness of the situation has inherent advantages over a fixed defense with one “attacker.”

I think of it as being able to add pieces back on to a chess board when I want more possible moves.

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