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Presentation Nuisances: Hecklers, Tech Difficulties & Natural Disasters

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:

  • Hecklers
  • 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.

Presentation Nuisances: Handling Them Like a Professional

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:

  • Hecklers
  • 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.

What NSA Chief Keith Alexander Can Teach Us About Presenting to a Tough Crowd

Yesterday, The National Security Agency Chief Keith Alexander presented to a room full of hackers and cyber security experts at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas. The NSA has monopolized the headlines over the extent of their spying activities on U.S. citizens, such as the controversial “PRISM” program, became known to the public. Further controversy arose when it was reported that the NSA had lied to Congress about the existence of such programs. During yesterday’s speech, a couple audience members made their distaste for the NSA’s activities known in a very vocal manner.

Hecklers, or even just an unruly, disrespectful crowd, has the potential to derail any presentation. You can’t control when you’ll experience an undesirable crowd, but you can control how you react to it. Say what you will about the NSA’s activities, but there is a lesson to be learned from how gracefully Alexander handled himself in the face of aggressive hecklers.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

President Barack Obama
Some audiences may agitate you to the point where you want to yell like President Barack Obama, but keeping one’s cool is an important lesson in presenting.

It’s always an awkward moment when a presenter gets visibly angry. It’s one of those terrible “can’t-look-away” moments you don’t want to be the focus of. Nobody ever looks good squabbling with audience members, so it’s always important that, no matter how angry, aggressive, or insulting a crowd may get, you never stoop down to their level.

Another often infuriating aspect of presenting is if your audience seems to be paying no attention to you at all. Sure, you’ll always have a few people in the audience texting–maybe even snoozing a bit–but it’s still irksome when some have the nerve to carry on a casual conversation while you’re giving a speech right in front of them.

Although it’s not quite as uncomfortable as openly arguing with an audience member, pausing your speech to “shh” someone can be a little awkward too. Use your best judgement here. If the unruly, oblivious audience member is beginning to distract others, it’s okay to politely and respectfully ask if they could keep their voice down.

Similarly, if a heckler seems hell-bent on distracting you and demands a response, and there isn’t any event security to assist you here, it’s best to ask if they wait until the end of the presentation to approach you with comments or questions.

The most important thing, in either case, is to keep a cool head. More often than not, hecklers are looking for a reaction.

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”

That saying isn’t totally applicable, but if you watch this short clip of Alexander’s speech, when the hecklers begin to yell out while he is talking, rather than ignore or try to speak over them, Alexander ad lib’s them into his speech. While not all of us may be comfortable enough doing this so naturally, it’s an effective way to keep the attention in the room focused on your topic, not what the hecklers are shouting about.

A bad crowd, or a few bad eggs in it, is never desirable, and hopefully it isn’t a common occurrence. Most rude audience members in the business world are often simply bored or oblivious, and the best solution is simply to be captivating enough to keep the crowd focused on the topic of your choosing.

 

Reference:

Menn, Joseph. “NSA Chief Defends Surveillance Programs at Hacking Conference.Reuters. July 31, 2013.