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Distractions can be a frustrating experience for any presenter, seasoned or not. Let's talk about how you can deal with 5 of these distractions. We will start with the sneezer. People sneeze and cough; it's a fact of life. And as a presenter you have to put up with all kinds of minor noises and distractions. The key is to ignore these sneezes and coughs like they never happened. Don't say bless you or give them any special attention. Just repeat what you said, and move on. If you have a habitual sneezer, discreetly offer them a tissue, but if it gets really bad, remain calm and take a break.
Just don't make it into a big deal. The Interrogator--every meeting has one of these. They ask a lot of questions and many of them wouldn't even be necessary if they would just pay attention. The most important thing is to address their question, but what if they keep coming? Eventually, you're going to have to put a cap on things. Tell the guest politely that there's a limited amount of time and that you would be glad to answer all of the remaining questions at the end of the presentation, during the allotted Q&A time, or even after.
You can remind them that others in the audience might have questions too and that you'd like to reserve some time for them. The Troublemaker--so you have a heckler, or maybe they're being rude talking on their cell phone, eating loudly, or any other number of other ways to annoy you and the rest of the audience. Most of these situations can be resolved by mixing things up. Announced to the audience this will be a great time to take a break or maybe tell everyone to split in the small groups and work on a team exercise. Then deal with your special guest privately.
Don't let one person ruin the presentation for everyone else, and remind them that their actions are affecting everyone. If the problem persists, don't engage the guest any further. Simply contact security, management, or someone who can resolve the situation with authority. Then return right where you left off after the break. The Outsider--these are the guys doing their work outside so loud it's affecting your ability to communicate. What's important here is to deal with the situation through delegation. As soon as you hear that coffee grinder or diesel generator start up, you have got a choice to make.
If you can close the door and resume without interruption, great. If not, either call for a break or delegate someone to take care of the noise for you. In other words, don't walk away from your audience to resolve the issue. Get someone to help or just pause the show. The Boss--when you're presenting and someone with influence is in the audience, you run the risk of turning them into a distraction. iIt's not their fault. You want to impress them, close the deal, or make sure they get the message. The problem is that you might give them so much focus, you're neglecting at the entire audience and singling them out.
When you present, think of everyone in the room as perfectly equal. Quit staring at your boss and spread the charm equally. The skills discussed here will come with practice. Before long you'll be handling the most disruptive of audience members with ease, delivering your presentation gracefully, no matter what comes your way.
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