This is my Oral Communications Paper on
How to Handle a Hostile Audience
How to Handle a Hostile Audience
There are several ways to handle hostile audiences. Knowing your audience, the environment and your material is the best way to be prepared to handle an audience that may become hostile.
When you are the speaker, get to know your audience before your assigned speech time. This is a great way to gauge what preconceived beliefs the audience has about you and your subject. Before your speech, mingle and introduce yourself to your audience. Ask them questions about your subject matter and ask for opinions. This will allow you to get a feel for the people you will be speaking to. Carefully read the following statement from Abraham Lincoln decide to follow his example. Abraham Lincoln said, "I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
A prepared speaker should have a firm knowledge of their speech material. Know places you can suggest that people go for more information or to make comments. Knowing your material will help you from getting lost if there are any interruptions or distractions. If you have an intentional physical interruption, do not totally ignore it but don’t let it take over your speech. Deal with the interruption and then continue on. Do not try to speak over the distraction, this will only anger the audience. Watch for ways to understand what is going on with the distraction and try to address the situation.
Your duty as a speaker is to deliver information to the audience. You want to focus on your audience and respond to their silent communication. Figuring out how to best serve them as a group will enable you to present your material in a more relaxed way.
Be open minded and listen to any comments with true intent. Answer all questions simply and honestly. If you do not have an answer, ask the person to allow you to find out the answer and get back with them after the speech. Be sure to remain calm and collected at all times. If you are verbally attacked, try to come to an understanding with the offender, but do not defend or attack back. Only cite proven or documented examples, refrain from throwing out untested or unproven information in the hopes that this will strengthen your point of view. This method often causes problems, proven resources and solid information will keep your speech honest.
Use soft self humor, but show respect for your speech material and your job as a speaker. Show your audience respect as well, through your voice and words, your body language, and the length of your speech. If you use any of their questions or comments, be sure to give them credit for their input.
Finally, if time allows, make yourself available after your speech to answer any lingering questions. Again, don’t get into a debate, even if driven or baited. You can always agree to disagree, allowing the situation to be diffused peacefully. Still listen to all the other points of view and try to understand why these points are being expressed.
In the end if things get out of hand during or after your speech, always plan a contingency to make a controlled exit. You do not want to incite a riot or have a huge argument take place. So, plan ahead on how you would remove yourself from the stage and gracefully exit the speaking arena.
1. How to successfully speak to a hostile audience by Terry Paulson
2. Techniques for handling interruptions to your speech by Ian Griffin
3. Seven Secrets to Handling a Hostile Audience By Larina Kase
4. How to Deal With a Hostile Audience By Lenny Laskowski