There are mistakes that nearly every presenter makes. If you understand these mistakes and handle them beforehand, you have the ability to be a powerful presenter everytime that you step onto that stage. This is the idea! When you are prepared, you are powerful! My goal is to train you so that you can train the world. In order to train the world, you need to be able to speak to your audience in a way that keeps them engaged while still being upfront and giving them the information they need. Do not fall into the pattern of giving them the information they want to try to keep them in front of you and failing to give them the information that they actually need.
There are two ways that you can “lose the room,” whether it is online or offline. The first way is the silent way that we have gone over in the past as well. This is when you have an audience that is bored or not engaged at all. If your audience is not engaged, then they are not paying attention to what you are saying at all. All that they care about is the time the clock strikes so that they can leave. They may be physically in the room but they are not present with you. Every presenter is at least aware on some level when this happens. They get a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach and they try all the wrong ways to re-engage the room. Some people choose to get louder to try to grab their attention. If they are already disengaged, then this will simply drive them further away.
The second way that you will lose the audience is the non-silent way. This is when people in the room may simply just not like what you have to say. Some of the audience may even decide to simply burst out and take their stance against you in front of the entire room. They tell you that you do not know what you are talking about or that what you are saying does not apply to them. For most presenters, this is one of the scariest situations that can occur. Most people have an innate fear of public humiliation. This is natural but there is a better way to handle the situation. If you lose the room this way, you can end up with chaos.
This can be a contagion that can ripple through the audience. One person can disagree and spread that negativity through the room. This can be very devastating and they can go into lecture mode where they only deliver without giving the opportunity to engage. Most speakers will avoid or ask to take the conversation online. One of the big mistakes that people make in this scenario is to argue. Even if you are right, do not argue. Instead, ask them questions. Even if you are right, do not argue. All this does is make them angry. Try to understand the point of view they are coming from. Arguing has nothing to do with your role as a presenter.
Do not try to ignore it or roll over and shut it down. Watch other presenters, find new ways to condition yourselves to be calm if the situation arises. These are things that you can actually practice. Another wrong way to react is to let the participants off of the hook. Ask them questions and get other people involved in the conversation. They may not be happy, but they are engaged. You acknowledge the engagement and create a conversation. When people ask questions, I hardly answer any questions. I can answer most questions in ten seconds, but I do not because this lets them off the hook. If you give them all of the answers, this robs them of the opportunity to find the answer. Ask them questions so that they think and engage and become an active participant in the presentation.
There is a time to give answers. For the most part, when I train people, I teach them to solicit the answers from the room. In virtual conversations, set them up in breakout rooms so they can discuss the questions. During the presentation, make sure that you are asking them questions. Keep your audience engaged. Why do we do this? This is to engage the brain. When you engage the brain, it thinks. Your job as a teacher, trainer and facilitator is to make people learn while making learning fun. It is their excitement around the material that allows them to produce results.
Do not let them off of the hook! Resist the temptation to show your knowledge. Get them to discover the answer themselves. This is how you bring them on the road to discovery. They will remember a lot more about what they discover rather than what you simply tell them. Assume that they are able to find the answer, acknowledge everything that they are engaging with you. Remember this, there is not a problem in the world that cannot be solved by people that engage together.