Public Speaking: Killing With Kindness

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In public speaking, killing with kindness is a method of dealing with difficult audience members in a classy way. Kill them with kindness with tips from a communication specialist in this free video on public speaking.

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In terms of interacting with one's audience during an outstandingly good presentation, killing them with kindness is one of my very favorite techniques. And, please know that when I say "killing" I don't mean it particularly seriously. The point is, when an audience member seems challenging, they may or may not actually intend to seem challenging. In fact, I've heard people say to their challenging seeming colleagues out in the hall, "Why do you rip the instructor apart that way?" or "Why did you do that to the presenter?" And the challenging person says, "I did? I just thought I was just asking a question." Most people don't want to be jerks. Yes, there are occasional jerks, but most people aren't jerks. So, if you get a challenging question, challenging response, the answer to you is to kill them with kindness. In your head you're thinking, "God, I wish I could just take a big hammer and smack him with it." But instead, what you're saying is, "OKay, I hear your question. What I think I head you saying is blah, blah, blah." You look at them again, they either respond and you go through it again, and when the short interaction is done, you thank them. You thank them and you move on. If it turns out they are a truly challenging person, they want to take issue with you, they want to steal your air time, you're in control, it's your presentation, you are the expert, you can't let them do that. But, you can offer to speak with them after the presentation. Nine our of ten times they're not interested in that. But, you offer, "Let's talk about this afterwards because I do have to move on now." And you make yourself available to talk with them afterwards. The point here is that if you have a difficult participant, you always take the high road. I said in another segment that if you go toe to toe with an audience member who is challenging to you, you're the one who's in power, you're the one who's got everybody's eyes on them. If you do battle with them, you're going to look small. If you take the high road. If you refuse to be caught, be hooked by their negativity then the rest of the group is going to think they're a jerk, think you handled it well, and you'll be able to go on with your message.

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