How do you deal with a difficult audience member? If you have spoken for long enough, you will find someone who is sitting in the audience pulling a face as if they are annoyed with you and think that you are stupid. They may even try to interrupt you or try and take over. This is a common occurrence and may happen to you as well.

You will eventually have to deal with it- you cannot simply ignore it. But you also have to avoid going to the extreme where you begin to ignore every other person in the room because you are trying to placate the trouble maker. You never know what is going on in that person’s head or life- they may have had their spouse recently leave them or maybe even had to face the death of a loved one- even if it has nothing to do with you, you should still be considerate.

My advice is that if it is a relatively small group, find out if they have any questions. If they just look generally annoyed, then try asking one of the audience members if there is something they are not clear on as you feel you might be losing the audience a bit. Ask them where they think you have taken a wrong turn. By blaming yourself instead of the audience member, you give them an easy outlet to state what is unclear.

If someone keeps asking irrelevant questions, state to them that you wish to give their important questions the time they deserve and will address them if they meet you at the back of the room once the presentation is done.

So there is a fine balance between ignoring the disruptive person and giving them so much focus that other people in the room begin to feel ignored.

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