Dealing with Difficult Audiences

Whether you’re managing a team, running a meeting, or giving a formal presentation, it’s not enough to know your material. You must be able to manage the process. Group dynamics are ever changing and dealing with groups can be sticky. That’s why a good leader or facilitator is able to change perspective and use a number of strategies.

Practice the 3D Strategy: depersonalize, detach, and defuse.
The first step is to depersonalize. People come with their own emotional baggage. One woman walked out of a motivational speech because the speaker was wearing an Elvis costume. The audience member did not like Elvis. It had nothing to do with entertainer’s talent or competence. So don’t take it personally.

Step two is to detach. That means that you don’t engage the ego. Once you go head-to-head with that heckler you set up a competitive dynamic. Don’t let your emotions get out of control. Ask questions to gain understanding. Do not get defensive.

Step three is to defuse. Dissipate the negative energy. One of the best defusers is humor. If you get tense, the negative energy will increase. Take a light, playful approach. You can’t laugh and be angry at the same time.