It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first or nth presentation, or how confident you’ve become with your skills to engage the audience, one way or another you’ll have to deal with unexpected interruptions in the midst of your remarks.
Expect that how you handle these situations will be remembered more than what you said during the actual presentation. This is because people are programmed to commit emotionally jarring events to memory.
Humans possess the remarkable ability to conjure even the smallest details surrounding a bad experience.
Even with a well-made PowerPoint presentation, your reputation is always at stake when faced with interruptions.
Types of Interruptions
Nuisances during presentations fall under various categories, including:
- Technical Problems
- Major Disasters
Hecklers are those who protest to disagree or humiliate the speaker during a presentation. They get their point across by using the most unreasonable means possible. While they are rude most of the time, you cannot respond in the same way.
Your reactions may depend on who you are, especially when it comes to hecklers. All you have to do is find what works best for you. You can make it part of your act; handle it with philosophy; or even handle it with humor. While comedians can take down a heckler in a blaze of glory, some entertainers still think not letting them get the best of you is the mature thing to do.
What if the power goes out in the middle of your presentation or the tech malfunctions at the closing slide? While you know the PowerPoint like the back of your hand, such an event can still throw you off your game.
Peter Khoury of MagneticSpeaking shares that you shouldn’t try to fix the technology while you’re supposed to be giving a presentation. Instead, ask for technical assistance and start with your pitch.
In the event of a natural disaster, don’t panic. Remain calm and exit the building. This sends a message that despite the unfortunate event, you are still in control.
Staying Calm and in Control
While each type of interruption requires a different approach, staying calm and in control is constant. Never lose your cool in front of your audience, as this will make you look unprofessional and you’re sure to lose their trust and respect.
It’s easy to let these disturbances under your skin. Always be courteous and polite—maintain a level head and get your presentation back on track as quickly as possible.
Interruptions during presentations come in various forms, but if you can handle them gracefully, you’ll have no problem earning your audience’s respect. Doing otherwise may diminish the effectiveness of your presentation and you as a speaker.
Always keep in mind that even if you want to show your custom PowerPoint presentation design to your audience, it will only be secondary to your stage presence so be mindful of how you handle yourself in front of an audience.
Preparing for a presentation can be difficult, such interruptions can really grate on your nerves. Take it easy, handle it with patience and grace, and you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.
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Cancio, Colleen. “Do we remember bad times better than good?” HowStuffWorks. October 4, 2011. science.howstuffworks.com/life/remember-bad-times-better-than-good.htm
Fernandez, Jesse. “More Tips on Handling Hecklers from Stand-Up Comics.” Paste Magazine. September 8, 2016. www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/09/more-tips-on-handling-hecklers-from-top-stand-up-c.html
Khoury, Peter. “4 Thing than can Go Wrong with Your Presentation and How to Handle Them.” MagneticSpeaking. magneticspeaking.com/4-things-that-can-go-wrong-with-your-presentation-and-how-to-handle-them/