While you may never experience an interruption of Kanye proportions during your presentation or demo, you’ve probably encountered one of these 4 personality types who consciously or unconsciously seem hell bent on derailing your presentation. Handle it poorly, and you can find yourself back at square one with your prospect or out of the running entirely. If you present for a living, you need to have a plan for addressing potential derailers so you can keep your presentation from veering way off track and meet the goals of your audience.
4 Personality Types that can derail your presentation – and how to stop them in their tracks:
* The Kanye:
Just like when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift as she accepted a VMA award, the Kanye has no problem letting you know anytime they disagree. Right in the middle of your opening or making a key point? No problem. Kanye is only too happy to disagree, split hairs, or bring up unlikely “what if” scenarios at any time. Either way, falling into a point/counter-point type debate with a prospect rarely results in a positive outcome.
STOP: Take control of Kanye-like disruptors in your audience early to avoid having their actions cast a negative light on your entire presentation. Try diffusing negative energy by letting Kanye know you value his opinion and that you want to know more about it outside of the presentation. If this doesn’t appease him (and he is not an executive) you can try enlisting help from his manager or your sponsor during a break.
* The Jim Carrey:
Can you imagine how much fun it would be to have Jim Carrey on your team? Can you imagine how little you would ever get done?! Humor is a great quality to foster in your audience, but when one member’s stand-up routine starts to overshadow important points and distract others, you need to reign it in.
STOP: Assign Jim Carrey with a task, whether it’s taking notes, handing something out, or watching the time. This gives the comedian something else to think about besides her next big joke. If he continues with distracting or disruptive behavior, try gently placing a hand on his shoulder as you address the group. This is a subtle and nonaggressive way of letting someone know you expect their attention.
*The Terry Gross:
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the NPR program Fresh Air and popular host, Terry Gross, but sometimes her questions seem to be of interest to only one person…Terry Gross. You too may find your presentation commandeered by someone who seems to have their own agenda and list of questions – many of which have little relevance to the topic or could lead you down a path you don’t want to go. Whether it’s a real quest for information or a power play, letting Terry Gross steer your presentation is dangerous and discourteous to the rest of your audience.
STOP: Deal with the Terry Gross personality early before she gets out of control. Table her questions with a response like, “That’s a great question, and I want to answer that, but we need to move on to get through our list of priorities you asked me to cover today. So with your permission, let me write that down and if we still have time, let me back to it after we get through our agenda today.”
* The Justin Bieber:
Celebrities are known for many things, but being on time isn’t one of them. Justin Bieber ranks among the latest – and of course, he arrives with great fanfare leaving fans swooning in his wake. While audience members may not swoon when they see someone enter your presentation late, they will be at least momentarily distracted, no matter how discreet The Biebs tries to be.
STOP: Don’t complete with The Biebs entrance. Embrace it by pausing, acknowledging him and asking him to briefly introduce himself (if appropriate). Then quickly jump back in with a compelling question or hook that re-engages your audience and makes The Biebs entrance seem dull in comparison.
Any other disruptive type of personalities you encounter when you give a presentation or demo?