Dealing with difficult audiences

Our presentation courses are planned to significantly improve presentation skills to allow delegates of all levels to be able to make powerful presentations.  The presentation seminars that we provide are packed full of presentation tips and techniques that demonstrate strategies which will show delegates how to reduce nerves in presentations and to allow them to present confidently when presenting to clients or colleagues. Our presentation skills workshops are designed not just to show delegates how to make a simple presentation: they are designed to show delegates how to create a successful presentation also maximising the applications of PowerPoint to make great presentationsPresentation training will allow delegates to build on their presenting skills; make better presentations; enjoy making presentations and teach delegates how to present successfully.  Delegates who have taken our Presentation Courses have expressed how much they enjoyed the variety in our presentation skills training and now feel confident to present in any situation.


Often, in speeches or presentations, there will be an individual in the audience that may cause you difficult. They may simply like to hear themselves talk, or are actually intending to make your life difficult. If you have that individual in your audience, remember, that as the speaker, you have to control the audience, and one of the best ways to deal with a difficult person is to avoid them and their questions.

I once attended a business meeting where a speaker poorly handled that person. Several times during the presentation, that person raised his hand to ask the speaker a question. Each time the speaker called on that person, he asked a long-winded, difficult, or inappropriate question. In fact, one time he simply made a statement. Though the audience was clearly uncomfortable and annoyed when that person was called on, and the speaker was noticeably losing her composure, she continued to call on that person and stumble though strained answers to his awful questions.

This is an example of a speaker giving up control to an audience member unnecessarily. The speaker should have avoided calling on that person after his first inappropriate question. There is no rule that says the speaker has to acknowledge an audience member with a raised hand. The speaker has control of who is called on and should not give up that control to difficult audience members.

The speaker had several options for controlling this audience member, and some are as follows:


The speaker could have simply chosen not to call on that person (“Just ignore him, Kirstin,” my mother would say when I was younger and the boys were teasing me. Hmmm… another one of those lessons we learn as children that we should remember to use as adults.)

Set Limits

The speaker could have said, “For the sake of time and to make sure that everyone has at least one opportunity to ask a question, please limit your questions to one per person.”

Write Down Questions

The speaker could have said, “I notice that some of you have a lot of questions, but I will be unable to finish my presentation if we answer all of them. Please write down your questions on the back of your business card. Mary, could you please collect those questions and bring them to me? I will answer as many questions as I can at the end of the presentation if we have time left over.”

Directly Address

The speaker could have said, “What is your name, sir? John? Well, John, I appreciate your enthusiasm and your comments, but since we only have a short period of time today to go though the scheduled material, would you mind holding the rest of your comments until the end of the presentation?” Or, “John, your interest in this subject is wonderful, although your comments are too detailed for this presentation. Could we address your concerns afterwards?” While asking that person these questions, be sure to nod your head up and down to encourage that person to also nod in agreement.

The bottom line is: you are the speaker and therefore the person in control. Don’t let one audience member ruin it for everyone else. I’m not recommending that you handle that person rudely, but keep in mind that the rest of the audience probably recognizes that person is being that person and will have more respect for you if you handle the situation firmly and effectively. Hey, the audience doesn’t want to listen to that person, either.

Excellent presentation skills give you a platform to demonstrate your sales skills, leadership qualities, communication skills, influencing abilities and promotion potential. Our objective over the two days is to teach you the skills and techniques that will give you both the confidence and competence to enjoy making presentations in all situations. We will be giving action points to sharpen your image; reduce nerves; allow you to appear both confident and competent and increase your credibility in the eyes of colleagues and clients.

PowerPoint presentation skills, Advanced Presentation skills and Presentation skills are three of the courses trained by Total Success Training, a training consultancy specialising in communication training and management skills in London and throughout the UK. Other related courses include sales presentation skills, training the trainer, assertiveness skills, selling skills, negotiation skills and communication skills for managers. Click here if you need more information regarding presentation skills course information or contact Total Success who will be delighted to talk to you via e-mail.

Click here for more information about: