Tips for dealing with a hostile audience member

Jerks and angry people are everywhere, so you can bet one or more might be sitting in the audience listening to your presentation, and they may just be on the attack. When someone verbally attacks you, it’s all too easy to become defensive or flustered and lose your composure. While angry audience members can be a pain, they also offer you an opportunity to show the rest of the audience that you are a class act.

When an audience member verbally attacks you during a presentation, follow these tips:

  • Don’t lose your temper. Maintain your cool and you will appear confident and in control. That will garner respect from your audience.
  • Never retaliate. Respond in the same manner that you would if the question wasn’t loaded with hostility. Any anger or sarcasm on your part or any attempt to insult the person will make the audience sympathize with the questioner.
  • Keep things moving. Quickly answer the question and move on. Don’t allow the person to sabotage the entire presentation. Keep your answer brief and to the point and then move on to the next person.

What’s the craziest thing an audience member ever said or did to you during a presentation?

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