At a recent luncheon the speaker didn’t mention one of the key concerns regarding his topic. As a result, many of the people at my table started discussing the issue and stopped listening to the speaker.
Most audiences want you to do well. Occasionally though you may encounter people who do not want to be in your audience or have strong, sometimes negative, opinions about your topic. Practice these five suggestions to help win over any audience.
• Know your audience. Learn as much as you can about your audience before your presentation. What do they know about your topic? What do they want to know about your topic? What are their concerns? If you address your participants’ concerns, they are more likely to listen.
• Mingle before the presentation. Be friendly. Go up to people and introduce yourself. This rapport building helps people connect with you. You can also learn more about your audience during this time.
• Establish credibility. Make sure the audience knows why you are qualified to talk about the subject. If you are not introduced, make sure you give a self-introduction in the beginning of your presentation. And this is not the time to be modest. The more knowledgeable the audience thinks you are, the less likely they are to challenge you.
• Project confidence whether you feel it or not. Don’t show or tell the audience that you are uncomfortable. Look people in the eye. Stand when you can. Dress for the presentation. And speak loudly enough to be heard with authority.
• Anticipate the tough questions and know how you will answer them. Prepare ahead of time for every possible negative, difficult question or comment. You should not be caught off guard.