How to Deflate Windbags in Your Innovative Presentation Q&A

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

Windbags have an opinion about everything, and they think everyone wants to hear them endlessly pontificate in your innovative presentation. They want to hog the floor and interject their comments throughout your presentation.

Windbags don’t care if others mind. They never heard of a sound bite — that ultra-concise way of using an economy of words to make a clear point quickly. Vaccinated with a phonograph needle, windbags need a quick yappendectomy.

As a presenter, you have to deal quickly and decisively with a potentially disruptive individual. Use these tips:

  • Actively call on other people by name to ask their inputs and ideas.

  • Ask the chatterbox how his comment (or question) ties into the topic you’re presenting or the discussion taking place.

  • After several interrupting comments, look at the person while pausing for three to four seconds and simply continue without responding to the comment. Ignoring the person with stone silence and moving along without a response may discourage more interruptions.

  • Say something like, “Marsha, you’ve been doing all the hard work asking and contributing comments freely. I really want other audience members to give their fair share of contributions for a change and give you a break.”

  • If someone is going on and on about a trivial matter or their pet opinion, interrupt them and summarize, something like the following, “I hear what you’re saying: Cost control is critical. I wish we had more time to discuss that, but with so much more to cover on the how-to’s during this presentation, we have to move on.”