One of the most powerless feelings in the world is when you give a presentation in front of a crowd of people, and someone verbally attacks you or your presentation. I’ve always referred to these people as “snipers” because they use the audience as their shield with the intent of disrupting your presentation. You’ve tried to let “the first one be free” and tried to “relay” their comments, but (they) the sniper keeps on coming. You can either watch your presentation (have the choice of either seeing your presentation) crash and burn, or you can do something dramatic. I’m picking dramatic!
Flushing out a sniper is a risky move, but you are almost out of options. You know you are being attacked and the audience knows you are being attacked. It’s time to expose the sniper, and in order to do that, you just have to ask the right question. It might go something like this:
Sniper: “Again, I have to say, this is not something that will work here. No offense, but it’s a waste of time, and money, and we’ve heard this all before.”
Speaker: “Fair enough. I can certainly hear in your voice you have some frustrations. However, I have to let you know, the way you are communicating right now is coming out rather aggressively. Are you intending that way?”
No one will ever say; “Yes, I’m intending to be aggressive!” What you will hear is; “No, but I just don’t believe…” Usually by the time they are done, (and) so is the issue. The sniper can’t continue with the lethal jabs because he or she knows you are on to them, and so does the audience. Don’t be surprised to see this unprofessional person pout like a child because their little game is over, but quite frankly, I wouldn’t give it a second thought. You have a job to do, and partaking in a debate that will continue to create negativism, rob you of precious time, and frustrate the audience, is not part of (that) the job.
This simple tactic will work the majority of the time, but every now and then, you will have a sniper who is bound and determined to take on a speaker. I have one final move you can make, so stay tuned for next week’s final BLArticle® in this miniseries!