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Dealing with Negative Reactions During Sales Presentations

July 23, 2015 / Blog

Even with a prepared sales presentation, a compelling speech, multiple rehearsals, there’ll always be some listeners who won’t agree with you afterwards.

Don’t worry though, receiving negative feedback is unavoidable, and you won’t be able to please everybody. People will always have different opinions from others.

On the other hand, you can minimize the effect by identifying who you’ll be presenting to beforehand. Are they creative directors who focus more on the execution, and design style of your works? Or executives who just want the bare basics, and benefits of what you offer them?

This should be accomplished by knowing their corporate ethics, cultural values, and their social background. Are they the type to prioritize making the customers feel welcome in their shops? Do they prioritize superior products above all? Or are they the type to build solid working relationships between their employees and customers alike?

With that information, you can then tailor your pitch to suit their behavior and give the impression that you share similar company beliefs and working ethics. In this way, you can easily appeal to a common ground and lessen the negative responses from the audience once you start.

Always Be in Control

Tony Dungy stated in his book, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life, that unwanted circumstances may come unexpected, but you have the ability to respond to it positively or negatively. The choice is yours if you will focus on possible opportunities, or let yourself be swayed by negative situations.

While some presenters battle with stage fright, being afraid of getting interrupted is challenging. How will you react if a listener opposes you? Will you respond negatively or use it to your advantage?

These people may be difficult to handle, and you’ll undoubtedly run into them during a pitch. But the outcome of your presentation will depend on how you respond to them. This is why it’s important to be willing to listen and work with their problems as a professional when facing such unpleasant situations.

While you can prepare for possible disagreements, preparation is not enough in some cases. When that happens, react positively with three ways:

1. Face the Issue

Most people take corrections or oppositions personally because they think it’s themselves who are being attacked. Don’t let this kind of mindset deceive you, after all, even experts get negative feedback from others.

Remember that in any disagreements, the topic is the main object of discussion, and not the person itself. Public speaking coach Eamonn O’Brien advises that when dealing with someone who opposes your argument, you need to focus on the issue being brought up instead of tackling the person.

Instead of thinking about escaping from the situation, learn how to handle it professionally by responding positively. You could ask the person to clarify their point, or elaborate on the question while you let yourself think or return to your notes for reference. Don’t allow any negative comments to dictate your attitude since it won’t solve the issue. It’ll only heighten the tension and make things worse.

If he demands for further evidence to convince him to believe, do so without showing any sarcasm. Show them any facts you can either on-screen, or through discussion. Remember: it’s your topic that they’re critiquing, not you as an individual. Be professional by taking constructive criticism as opportunities to improve your brand.

Let anyone opposed speak their minds, then transform their input into beneficial feedback for you.

2. Listen Attentively

No matter how positive or negative the comments are, listening to your audience lets them notice that you respect not only their concerns, but also their presence. Mentally note down their concerns so you can either address them, or take note of it and promise to get back to them. You’ll give them the impression that you’re valuing their needs by lending them your ears, instead of talking too much about yourself and bombarding them with information.

Taking advantage of this opportunity creates a better way to understand others. If someone disapproves your argument, listen and then ask questions. Are they looking for other examples that can further explain the idea being discussed? Or are they just confused about what your topic entails? Keep track of what they ask you and how they react to your presentation. Giving them the chance to speak out allows them to clarify their points so you can give appropriate feedback.

Doing so increases your credibility as a speaker, proving that you’re willing and ready to understand their side of the story.

3. Show Professionalism

Listening is not enough to prove that you understand the person giving unpleasant comments. The way you respond is crucial, since your audience’s reaction depends on your answer to their concerns or clarifications. In times like this, keep a level head and maintain your pace to help you analyze what needs to be told without offending anyone. By focusing on what issues they raised, and listening to what they ask you, you get information that you can use to respond.

Instead of reacting aggressively and not considering what your audience might feel, you end up solving their problems like a professional.

Remember, your audience is the entire reason why you’re doing a presentation. Your goal is to engage and connect with them to successfully deliver your message and sell your proposal. Show that you care about meeting their needs by looking for things that you both agree with.

The Takeaway

The fact still remains that you want all your audience’s approval. This is why you need to answer in a way that gets the rest of the audience on your side.

Responding positively to opposition proves that you can handle unexpected situations well. If you receive negative feedback after your pitch, acknowledge it but don’t let it bother you too long.

Instead of focusing on the problem, concentrate on how you can properly address it without offending anyone from the crowd. Listen more closely to what they have to say, and find a better way to satisfy your clients’ needs.

Dealing with negative responses positively makes the audience trust you and more likely to do business with you.

If you want to know more about effective presentation, SlideGenius is willing to help you out and address your concerns. Give us a call today!



Dungy, Tony/ Whitaker Nathan. Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life. Tyndale House Pub, 2007.

O’Brien, Eamonn. “Turn Negative Audiences to your Advantage.” The Reluctant Speakers Club. November 24, 2011. Accessed May 13, 2015.