Do you ever feel like an audience member is attacking you when they ask challenging questions during your presentation?
Hopefully, your audience doesn't actually try to discredit you or prove you wrong, as a client recently mentioned to me, but sometimes a particular question can provoke a feeling of anger or defensiveness. You might get riled up. You might get ruffled. You might feel confused and uncomfortable.
Take it easy, big guy. Here are some ways to get past that rush of blood to the head and take the tough questions with ease.
1. Anticipate the challenges.
Part of preparing for a presentation is anticipating the possible challenges to your message. You might think that there are some topics that nobody could possibly challenge, but that's never the case.
What are the arguments against your points? Be prepared to back up your facts and your opinions.
2. Don't take it personally.
Just because the person is disagreeing with your ideas or your content, that doesn't mean he has anything against you as a person. Accept the question as being about ideas and nothing more.
3. Don't assume the question is adversarial.
The main point I want to make here is that, just because you perceive a question to be adversarial, doesn't mean it is adversarial.
Give your audience member the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is truly curious and is asking the question with good intentions.
Try reframing the way you look at audience questions, and be prepared for the tough ones, and you'll experience a lot less stress and discomfort at Q&A time.
Here are a couple of articles about dealing with true hecklers:
Hecklers: The original backchannel