Individuals who seem attacking can disarm even the most experienced presenters.
When statements start with an accusation or an acerbic tone of voice, it can be hard to keep your composure, especially if other audience members are witnessing this attack. Difficult individuals need to be contained. The wise presenter remembers the following quick tips.
When a difficult person is challenging you, he or she wants to be heard. Even if you feel that the person has misinformation, refrain from interrupting or correcting. The situation will escalate.
Demonstrate Good Listening Skills & Empathic Body Language
Maintain eye contact, nod and make empathetic statements like, "oh" or "that must be upsetting." Body language that says you are truly listening and are surprised by what you are hearing goes a long way.
It is a good idea to paraphrase what you are hearing so that the obnoxious person sees you get it. He or she will correct you if you haven't gotten all the details straight. Be sure to ask questions about anything that is confusing.
Don't Accept Attack Personally
It is probably not you. The misbehaving person might always behave in the same annoying manner. He or she may be stressed from too many changes or reorganizations or from a personal crisis.
Perhaps, the last person from your company did not follow up or the previously purchased product really didn't solve their organization's issues. Try to separate your self from the situation and focus on the best way to respond. Take a few deep breaths or drink some water to gain composure. Do not demonstrate that you are flustered.
Think before you speak. Do not argue, defend or put down. You may win the battle but lose the war. A confrontational approach makes the rest of the people at the meeting uncomfortable. It starts to get personal.
People who are loose cannons need to be treated with respect, even though they have been unprofessional. Do not make them lose face by arguing or making caustic comments. If you sense that the person is not going to be satisfied by anything you say, offer to take the situation offline so that you have time to explore all of the various problems.
Do Not Gloss Over
It is a mistake to gloss over a serious incident in the hopes that no one will notice it or confront you. If you don't take ownership, people will see you and your organization in a very negative light. If there is a known problem, it is good to acknowledge it right up front and apologize for any inconvenience if it has caused them.
Focus on what you have done as an organization to correct the problem. By doing so, you demonstrate that you are taking responsibility for a bad situation and that corrective measures are now in place so that this won't be an issue again.
Take Control of the Situation
As a presenter, it is your responsibility to maintain control of your meeting. People who are "loose cannons may constantly interrupt you or have a "but" statement for everything you say to gain control from you. If you allow this to continue, you will lose control of the room. After this occurs a second time, use the person's name and state that you need to finish your statement so that the whole of what you are saying can be understood. For example, you may state, "John, please allow me finish. The points I am trying to make may help you to better understand the situation."
You can also again suggest taking this offline so that others who do not have this as a concern are not sidetracked. Sometimes, individuals become disruptive by starting "side bar" conversations. A good way to control this to is to move in the direction of the conversation. Typically, others who are involved will sense that they are being rude and will stop. If this doesn't work, you should stop talking and ask if there is anything you have said that is confusing or needs further discussion.
Pay Attention to Your Presentation Style
People sometimes cause others to behave badly because of their own annoying communication style. No one likes the feeling of being talked down to or being preached at. Also, they do not like the feeling that you do not respect their point of view and that yours is the only correct fix on the situation.
Avoid sentences or statements that begin with "you." Avoid pointing. Finally, there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence. The wise presenter knows the difference.
Use Humor When Appropriate
Having a lighter approach with a "loose cannon" can be very disarming. It can also quickly turn a potentially negative situation into something positive.
People who are disruptive are needy. They need to be affirmed and recognized, but often they act in such an inappropriate manner that it is hard to do. The more you understand the reason for their behavior, the better able you will be to detach your self and respond in a non-emotional manner.
- Understand your ideas
- Accept them as appropriate
- Trust you as being honest and credible
MYTH: Presentations are Performances
One of the most common presentation assumptions found has to do with the notion of performance.
While many people may not actually use the word ‘performance’ to describe it, it’s clear they assume that a business presentation is a type of performance.
Many presenters believe ‘practice makes perfect’ and ‘practice at least X number of times before delivery.’ Many people believe they are obligated to practice before a presentation.
If you’ve experienced one of our Effective Presentation Workshops, you know that EffectiveCommunication.com.au (EC) strongly disagrees with this myth.
EC is not a big fan of practice - at least not the type of practice many believe they are obligated to perform. The assumption they’re making is that practicing will guarantee your success, that it will give you more control over the process.
The problem is, it won’t.
TRUTH: Presenters Engage in a Conversation
The business presentation environment is not the place for that type of practiced performance.
Presenters need to engage their audiences in a conversation - a conversation with purpose and structure, but a conversation just the same. The act of practicing to be perfect ties this process up in knots.
Presenters need to be prepared. They need to be ready for anything. But practicing isn’t the way to go.
Formal Speeches are a different matter
Now, if you’re delivering a formal speech, knock yourself out. Practice as much as you want.
Speeches are an entirely different communication responsibility. Because they are scripted and often have a very carefully choreographed slide deck, speeches need to be practiced.
Remember that business presentations are not performances. To succeed, they must be genuine, conversational interactions.
For the past 10 years EffectiveCommunication.com.au (EC) Specialist Trainers are commonly asked the answer(s) to the following business presentation concerns:
“How do I overcome nervousness, lack of knowledge, unexpected questions, PowerPoint challenges, sentence structure etc.”
These are challenges people and discuss with both our Asia Pacific & Americas offices. In other words, these are internation (or human) concerns.
When you recognise the heart of these concerns about why presenting is so challenging, then the following answer makes sense.
As a business communication & presentation specialist, EC believes one of the most common challenges people face is that they prepare for a speech instead of a presentation.
Speeches are scripted, rehearsed and performed. Presentations are simply to float ‘Key’ ideas based on viable intellectual + emotional evidence in order to stimulate and facilitate a two way discussion with any given audience
You obviously need to plan well, but all business presentations need to be delivered in a flexible, spontaneous, conversational way.
So the challenge EC sees most is that people know how to prepare for a speech, but they don't know how to prepare for a presentation. This leads to anxiety, nervousness, analysis paralysis and boring, stiff, un-engaging and unsuccessful presentations.
Ensure your team does not prepare to give speeches rather than simple two way presentation
All the best!
The health and well being of your organisation depends on the service your clients receive. If they receive stellar service, then clients smile and stay loyal. If they are not impressed, they begin to look elsewhere.
There are some phrases inside sales, technical support and client service representatives use inadvertently that may sabotage building rapport when communicating. The following examples should be avoided at all costs.
1. No, we can't do that Clients hate being told "NO." If you have to tell them "no," remember to add the phrase, "But what we can do is."
2. That's not covered by your policy/warranty When clients think a policy or warranty includes certain items, it can really disappoint them. First apologise for the confusion. Then, be gentle when educating them on any terms or conditions. Be sure to tell them what to do when the renewal comes up or what to ask for the next time they make a purchase.
3. Don't take it out on me When a client is really angry and has a raised voice, it is very easy for the inside sales or client support rep to defend himself by saying, "Don't take it out on me." Usually, this statement escalates anger and almost never calms the caller down. A better way is to empathize with the customer.
4. May I put you on hold? In today's hectic world, callers want a quick resolution to their issue. They do not want to be transferred, and they do not want to repeat their story. Their expectation is that you will have the answers to their questions and know the product line. If you do have a legitimate reason for placing a caller on line, be sure to tell the client why this is necessary and that you will have already updated the next support person on the issue.
5. That is not our fault Clients are quick to blame. But it is always a mistake to take the person's attack personally and begin to defend one's self. A better idea is to apologise and then address why this issue was out of your control. Clients typically understand that some issues, such as deliveries or pick-up schedules are not always manageable.
6. You're wrong Clients can misinterpret or feel they know more than the support person about a product's capabilities. While it is important to educate the customer, we need to do it delicately. "I can see why you would think that. Other people have also done the same thing.
7. That will cost extra Clients are looking for bargains and "freebies." Waving delivery charges or extending a warranty goes a long way with making a customer feel special. Obviously, companies can't give away product, but when it is doable, consider the long range advantages. When extra charges are absolutely essential, make sure the customer sees how the additional investment is of benefit.
Clients have choices today. Their loyalty is critical in a troubling economy. Be sure you minimize the risk by avoiding the seven deadly statements.