How to Handle If Talk on the Side of Your Innovative Presentation - dummies

How to Handle If Talk on the Side of Your Innovative Presentation

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

People in the room of your innovative presentation may be holding conversations with the person(s) next to them and sometimes talking loud enough for you and others to hear are a distraction to everyone in the room.

People making occasional comments may actually be talking about something you discussed. But if you see a specific person or group repeatedly talking, smiling, laughing, and basically not focusing on your presentation, you have to cut them short — and fairly quickly.

Some people simply are rude and inconsiderate, and unless a senior manager is there to mete out some discipline, your best efforts may not work as planned. But here are some escalating tactics to employ:

  • Ask a question of the person to the left of the talkers, then ask another question to the person to their right. They will start to feel encircled with the audience focusing attention next to them.

  • Stop talking for five to eight seconds, look at a group loudly joking with each other, and smile. The sudden silence will make their talking evident.

  • If possible, walk around the room and stand near them while presenting. All eyes will be on you (and them and their behavior). Don’t make an obvious dash to them, be subtle in approaching them.

  • Engage one of the talkers to ask his opinion about a presentation point you just made.

  • Call out one of the side-talker’s name (let’s say Keith) in the context of a relevant point you are making, “Keith J. was telling me that one of his clients …” Hearing his name will usually force him to listen to be prepared to comment.

  • Highlight a critical point in your presentation by saying this with increased voice volume and a sense of urgency, “I’m coming to a very important part of the presentation that all of you should benefit from, and I need everyone’s total attention on this because I want your ideas, reactions, and comments.”

  • Mention that you notice their continual talking, “Denise, it looks as if you and Darius are going over something I was discussing (or something recently said). I’m wondering if there is a question the both of you have or a comment you would like to contribute to our discussion?”

  • Approach the talkers during the next break (if possible) and say something like, “I don’t know what your extended conversations are about, but based upon the body language of people in the group, it is distracting others. I would appreciate if you would refrain from those side conversations or take them outside the conference room.”