18 years ago when I returned after maternity leave to my role as Head of HR my boss called me into his office and said these words “Claire, we’d like you to take on Staff Training & Development as well as HR”
I almost fainted, I knew this would involve the dreaded “Public Speaking” – speaking in front of groups – something I had never, ever, wanted to do, plus in the past I had had quite bad anxiety just introducing myself when I attended a training course let alone run one myself!
One of the first groups I was due to train was our trades staff, 100% male, worked outside, received less pay for attending training; so there I was in front of 12 burly, overall clad men, arms folded (them not me!) and this was the last place they wanted to be – anxious? me? you bet I was!
How did I turn 12 angry men into a group who thanked me for a great morning’s training?
How to Win Over a Negative, Hostile Audience:
- Get to really know (and if you can to also love your content) – if you don’t care what you are presenting how on earth will you turn an audience onto it?
- Get into the shoes of your audience as much as possible and think about what might be in it for them (WIIFT) why should they listen to you? A motivated mind is an interested one. It’s very hard to be negative and motivated – try it!
- Anticipate what objections your audience might have for being there and use a “pre-frame” in your introduction. By this I mean use the anticipated objection (which in this example is “this is a waste of my time so what the hell am I doing here”?!) like this: “Some people have started this session thinking that this was a complete waste of their time … and by mid morning break have come up to me and thanked me … I have tried very hard to make today as relevant as possible … so please bear with me and if you can put these thoughts to one side … you can always pick them up again later! ” I often use appropriate humour (part of my presenting style) and I have also added and “if we get to the end of this session and you were right all along, and it has been a complete waste of your time … then the beers are on me”.
- When delivering the session use different methods so each learning style is accommodated (you might find this useful: 4 Questions you need to answer when designing any talk)
- Care about your audience, really care about them; demonstrate your respect for them: use names, involve, ask questions and listen
- Oh and always make sure there are plenty of refreshments too!
That was 18 years ago and since then I have mentored and trained 100′s of people from all sorts of jobs and businesses to not only feel confident to speak in front of groups of people but to also enjoy and inspire others to take action too …
Check out the events page to see when my next workshops are being held or contact me to run one for your team or work on a one-to-one.
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