Fortunately, heckling is not a common occurrence in the corporate world. However, interruptions and distractions do happen. Here are three ways to handle disruptions next time you’re in front of an audience:
- Be prepared. Know your audience before you walk into the room. Will they be receptive or hostile to what you have to say? Are they likely to be outspoken or sit quietly? Knowing what to expect helps you design a presentation that prevents disruptions before they happen.
- Be flexible. If someone interrupts or even heckles you, don’t ignore him. By acknowledging the interruption, you’re reminding the audience that you’re in control, not the disrupter.
- Be resolute. If the disruptions continue, ask people to hold their comments until the end. If that doesn’t work, ask the audience to voice their opinion: do they want you to continue? Peer pressure can be a powerful way to silence disrupters.
Adapted from “How to Speak to an Unruly Crowd” by John Baldoni.