Every time you go up on stage to speak to the audience, it’s ultimately to establish and develop a good relationship with them. To win the heart of the audience is to gain their trust and their respect all while providing engagement and credible information during a speech.
With that being said however, most speakers worry about whether their audience will like them or not – especially when they have to speak to a tough crowd.
How to Approach Tough Audience Members
These tough audiences can come in many forms. They’re either unimpressed, unconvinced or will jump at any opportunity to scrutinise and judge your every action. If not, they could just be plain uninterested.
This is every speaker’s worse nightmare. But while it can be daunting to face these groups of people, there are ways you can get them to switch to your side. All you need is a lot of determination, patience and effort.
So let’s start with knowing the audience. In order to get a tough audience to switch, it’s important that we understand what type of tough audience members we can typically find. This is so we can frame our presentations to adapt to their needs.
Here are the four types of difficult audience members and how to approach them:
1. The Entertainer
Just like their label, they love the social part of public speaking and this is often more important to them than listening to you. They participate by offering comments and questions to entertain and make the attention shift towards them rather than on the speaker.
At times, they can be of great entertainment but if you’re trying to bring up or convey a serious issue, their energy can undermine your efforts.
Here’s how to identify one:
They constantly promote themselves
They crack jokes
How to Handle This Type:
a) Bite Your Tongue
Do not challenge them unless you wish to make a new enemy. Resist the temptation to give a witty comeback or to crush his or her ego. Instead, be polite and answer their question before quickly moving on.
b) Leverage On Their Energy Skilfully
Sometimes, it’s okay to direct the attention towards the entertainer. Keep them involved by constantly asking questions and giving plenty of eye contact. However, to give the other audience members a chance to participate as well, only ask the entertainers a very specific type of question.
If that doesn’t work, cut short any comments that do not relate to the question.
c) Maintain an Easygoing Approach
Avoid being too serious or you’ll seem like a wet blanket. It’s okay to go with the flow with the entertainer at times. You can laugh at their jokes and give your audience some fun via this entertainer.
This helps give your audience a break – especially when the topic is difficult, complex or boring – before pulling them back to focus.
d) Bring Them Back on Track
Sometimes your talk may require the scene to be much more serious due to the depth of the issue. To ensure, that the entertainer does not lead the talk out of point, gently get them on track by mentioning the purpose of your speech and how you’d prefer the audience to behave.
2. The Rock
This person does not budge. Literally. No matter how much you try to engage with them, they won’t respond or provide any sort of reaction at all.
This is because they’re often socially anxious and will try to avoid participating or interacting in speeches. Despite so, these very people are also aware of how you, the speaker, behaves towards them.
How to Identify One:
Lack of response
Does not like to participate
How to Handle This Type:
a) Do Not Assume
You won’t get much opinions or questions asked from a room full of these individuals, but don’t judge a book by its cover – they may not necessarily dislike or are bored of what you have say to say. This brings me to my next point.
b) Warm Them Up
Try welcoming them into the room with a smile on your face, so they’ll feel much more comfortable and relaxed. This creates a positive environment which makes them much more keen to voice out their opinions as well.
c) Ask for their thoughts
The Rocks are usually the most reflective members of an audience. Due to their detachment from the group, their opinions and thoughts are mostly unbiased and offer a fresh perspective into your topic or issue.
3. The Critic
This audience member is every speaker’s nightmare because all it takes is one mistake. One mistake and these people will jump on you like a pack of hyenas that finally cornered its prey. They will scrutinise your every detail and action before they deem you as a trustworthy or credible speaker.
How to Identify One:
“Hi yes, I noticed that the second slide with the third paragraph overlaps the fifth paragraph with the second column on the first row”
Constantly questions your every intention while looking you up head to toe in scrutiny
Has a hostile or cynical attitude towards you or your topic
How to Handle This Type:
a) Welcome Them:
Listen to their comments and do your best to work with them rather than restricting them. This not only enables an open discussion; you may even get to gain a few insights from another person’s perspective as well.
In the end, they will also perceive you as a humble speaker who believes that their opinions matter too.
b) Agree with Them
If you still firmly believe your opinions are right, it’s okay to provide reasonable and tangible evidence to support your point. Just, make sure to do so in a calm and objective manner to avoid sounding defensive.
4. The Rebel
The rebel is basically someone who just wants to disagree with everything you have to say. Their reason for opposing you can vary. Sometimes it’s because they just hate your guts or worse – they do it because they think it’s fun to make the speaker squirm.
Either way, it’s important not to let them push your buttons or all the effort you’ve built for your image and credibility as a speaker will be thrown out the window just like that.
How to Identify One:
When You say the sky is blue, they yell back in protest, “No! Look out the window! It’s grey!”
Constantly finding ways to irritate you with irrelevant questions or statements
How to Handle This Type:
a) Turn the Tables
Most comics deal with this type by turning them into the target of the joke. This is good if you are naturally very good when it comes to improvised humour.
b) Do Not React
These types of individuals’ main goal are to fire you up so the worse think you can do is to let your emotions get the better of you.
One very quick way to stop them from constantly finding ways to get under your skin is to just stare at him or her with a neutral expression. They will eventually grow more irritated instead of the other way round since you’re not falling for their trap.
Winning Your Audience’s Trust
Now you know what to expect from the type of audience members you will be facing, it’s also equally important to know what you can do to gain their trust as a whole.
According to experts, trust affects a speaker’s credibility. This is because your audience view trustworthiness as your motivation to be truthful. Furthermore, gaining trust often makes audiences believe in your message as well.
Hence, here are the 7 Tips to help gain the trust and respect of your audience:
1. Embrace the ‘tough crowd’
“Embrace each challenge in your life as a an opportunity for self-transformation” -Bernie Siegel
We all have to face a tough crowd at least once in our lives. It’s inevitable. But, instead of seeing this as a challenge, try turning the table around so that it works in your favour.
Come onto the stage with a positive mindset and approach them like they’re the best crowd you’ve spoken to. The key is to look at every laugh or any sort of interest in your speech as a gift. Think this way: Every laugh or moment a listener engages in your presentation is an affirmation that you’re doing my job.
Focus on what is working and put your insecurities and doubt aside. This is so you can free up your mind to work on the good things and go from there.
2. Don’t take it personally
So far, we’ve been talking about how you can gain the heart of your audience. But one sure fire way to lose them forever is to take their comments to heart.
We, as humans, are naturally driven by emotions. But sometimes, letting them get in the way prevents us from establishing a good relationship with our audience. To ensure this does not happen, focus on the result that you’re looking for and not on how the process is making you feel, or whether the person offended you.
Although this sounds simple, it’s easier said than done. This is especially so when we encounter a rude and unreasonable individual that steps out of line. Don’t stoop to their level. Instead, take a deep breath, remain calm and try to deal with this individual patiently.
In return, the audience will realise that you are being treated unfairly. Not only that, the audience will have a better and positive image of you as well. The rude individual on the other hand, will look like a jerk as a result.
3. Addressing the Elephant in the Room
There will be a point in time where something unexpected happens or the audience knows something embarrassing or controversial about you.
For example, it could be someone in the crowd that was insulting or throwing food at you before you could speak or a ‘scandal’ that you allegedly got into.
Either way, it creates an awkward atmosphere between you and audience. Hence why you should address it even more to get it out of the way.
If not, you risk losing your audience’s attention because they’re too preoccupied by the unspoken issue that you did not clear before your speech. This ‘elephant’ that surrounds the room is what’s hindering them from paying attention in the first place.
President Barack Obama strongly believes in this saying. He openly acknowledges his discomforts which often include his race, his ‘funny name’ and the fact that his father comes from a developing part of the world and once lived in a hut.
This is an uncomfortable topic for him as his background may make him seem less eligible than the other leaders in America.
Despite the discomforts he faces, he still addresses them head on with humour, easing the comfort of those to whom he speaks. The outcome? He successfully manages to lead his audience back to his main point.
4. Show you understand
No one and I repeat no one likes to be told that ‘they don’t understand’. So when someone in the audience decides to challenge your idea, don’t fight it; embrace it. Say: ‘Tell me more’ so you can have an effective, enlightening and calm discussion.
This will show your effort in trying to understand your audience and you are doing so by addressing their concerns.
Here’s an added tip: constantly ask for their opinion or thoughts from time to time. This makes them feel wanted and appreciated as they feel that what they say matters to you as a speaker.
5. Find the common ground
A famous speaker for this is none other than former US President, Barack Obama. He has the uncanny ability to bring people together despite their differences. His method is simple, and it’s to focus on the similarities of him and his audience. This is how he manages to bring people of different backgrounds, race and ethnicity together.
So when you’re about to present, always ask yourself what are the shared beliefs, values, message or opinion you and your audience can agree on. This can help you gain their trust, flipping them from a tough crowd to future loyal fans.
Here’s a famous ‘I have a dream’ speech by Dr Martin Luther King Junior that brought people together despite their differences:
In this video, Dr King kept using the words, ‘I have a dream,’ before bringing his audience together with a common vision – the dream and the hope for a brighter future for America regardless of race, language or religion. This shared vision helped unite these people despite their differences in beliefs and values.
6. Through storytelling techniques
According to experts, recent scientific work is putting a much stronger emphasis on how stories change individuals’ attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
It has been scientifically proven that stories engage more parts of our brain as compared to data and statistics. Our brains activate on all our five senses which allows us to broaden our imagination and be part of the story itself.
If used correctly, storytelling can be a very powerful communication tool due to its ability to connect, gain the trust of and pique interest amongst the audience.
One example of a simple yet extremely effective storytelling technique is none other than ‘The Hero’s Journey Approach. This technique has a proven framework that never fails to keep your audience glued to their seats!
Here’s a video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about how school kills creativity. In the talk, he makes use of storytelling techniques to engage and hook his audience.
You’ll notice that he makes references through the story of others such as Picasso as well as his own personal stories to build rapport with his audience.
7. Ace your Q&A
It’s vital you Master the Art of Q&A. Many speakers are intimidated in this area but who wouldn’t be? It’s unchartered territory since you can’t know the questions that will be coming your way.
In short, this session will demonstrate whether you truly know your stuff.
This is the crucial moment where you either gain the trust and loyalty of your audience, or you completely lose them and your credibility. Essentially, it’s the segment of your talk where a two-way dialogue takes place. It’s not just a matter of conveying the message – it’s also receiving on your end as well.
In Q&A sessions, you may face a difficult questioner from time to time. In this setting, it’s important you know how to respond knowledgeably, calmly, and confidently. Don’t fear this obstacle but rather, embrace it. If you understand your content from the presentation, it’ll be half the battle won. All that’s left to do is to prepare questions to anticipate in advance and practice.
Summing It Up
So there you have it! These are the ways to handle and convince a tough crowd. Identify and understand the behaviours of a tough audience member so you can best approach them without compromising your credibility and image as a speaker.
Seize the opportunity to convince and switch a tough crowd with these tips:
Identify the type of tough audience members
Understand their behaviours and patterns
React and approach them accordingly
Embrace the problem and turn it into an opportunity
Don’t take things to heart and dare to address the issues or problems
Find common ground and show you understand your audience
Engage your audience through storytelling
Build your credibility through Q&A
Leave a comment below if you’ve applied these tips and if it worked for you!
Say you’ve gone into a negotiation, confident you’d clinch the deal, only to find that you’ve been flat out rejected or worse – the potential prospect suddenly decides they don’t want to work with you at all. What went wrong?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the best negotiation skills are through dominating or bullying someone into submission. If not, they make the mistake of being too submissive instead.
The result? A recipe for disaster. Hard-bargaining not only ruins deals but future business relationships as well. Being too submissive, on the other hand, incur more losses.
But whether we like it or not, everyone is a negotiator and has something to negotiate every day whether it be haggling over the price of a new car, persuading a toddler to eat his peas or convincing a client why they should choose your pitch. This skill is part of our lives and is inevitable – especially in business transactions and disputes.
There are many effective and different kinds of negotiation strategies and tactics but what makes one a great negotiator is the ability to combine these strategies to provide a win-win solution in the right place and at the right time. All in all, great negotiators are those who are hardworking, have good timing and have a little bit of luck on their side.
Hence, here are 20 tips that will help hone your negotiating skills so you stick out from the average Joes:
1. Plan ahead
According to experts, effective negotiation is 80% preparation. So if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Before every negotiation, it’s extremely important to come prepared with a plan and backup. A good plan consists of thorough research and homework of your opponent and their situation before hand.
This is because when you come in knowing your stuff, you’ll instantly sound much more confident – and that much more convincing. Doing otherwise will only make others take you less seriously and you may also not strike the best deal.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before a negotiation:
What is my end goal?
Are these the right questions to ask?
What questions will my opponent ask?
How do I answer my opponents?
2. Don’t be a pushover
How you sound, act or behave can determine what others will think of you – especially during first impressions. If you let others control your actions or easily give in to them, there is no way you can ever clinch a successful deal. To do so, you must come in confident and assertive yet not too aggressive at the same time. Not only will you convince the other party, you will also get the deal done on your terms.
Although not everyone is naturally confident, the first step is to look the part. A study found that 93% feel non-verbal communication affects their opinion of others. So be conscious of your gestures, your posture and how you hold your head.
3. Asking (the right) questions
Here’s an example: you want to buy the cheapest fish in the market. You ask all kinds of questions like how many shops sell this particular fish and which is the most expensive to the least. You even find out the name of the shop that sells the freshest fish. But, you did not ask the right question which was where you can buy the cheapest fish.
Although it’s good to ask as many questions as you can to gain insight, it’s much more important to ask the right ones. Asking the right questions not only saves you a lot of time, it provides you with the information you need first and foremost so you can negotiate much more effectively. Therefore, always prioritise and think of the questions that will benefit you the most. The other questions will provide bonus information.
4. Lay everything out
As Harvard Business School professor, Deepak Malhotra would say, “negotiate multiple interests simultaneously.”
In his book “Negotiating the Impossible”, it explains that by having several offers or issues laid out by you and your opponent, it makes it easier for negotiators to make wise tradeoffs. This means they can fight for what matters to them most while giving up what the other side values more.
Many of us make the mistake of negotiating one issue at a time which will often lead to everyone fighting hard for whatever that happens to be offered. This will less likely provide what everyone truly wants out of the deal.
Sometimes, negotiating deals can get a little too intense between you and the other party. So what can be done to help deescalate the situation? Showing positive facial expressions.
This is because your facial expression have the ability to influence your emotions and others around you as well.
One of the ways to show positive facial expressions is to smile. It naturally creates a higher frequency of sound in your mouth, changing the overall tone of your voice. And due to the human instinct of mirroring, it will also likely make others smile along with you which then improves the mood of everyone in general. However, it is important to smile genuinely. A forced smile will only end up making you look confused and frustrated.
6. Build bridges instead of walls
The most effective negotiators are professionals who know their business and don’t let personalities and irrational behavior interfere with their mission. While they know it is good to have power in a negotiation, they are also thinking long-term for their company. This means building a good relationship with their opponent and not straining it.
Building good relationships with other parties is essential especially if you are negotiating with them on a regular basis. This is because if the other party was threatened into submission, they probably will make it harder for you in the next negotiation or worse, stop negotiating with you again, possibly cutting off any future business.
7. Focus less on your limitations and more on your opponent’s
Focusing on your weaknesses or limitations too much will naturally make you believe your offer is less desirable than your opponent’s. This then makes you believe you are in a less powerful position which can affect your negotiating. Do not dwell on your limitations as your opponent will be able to sense your concerns and grab onto that weakness to their advantage.
Instead, focus on their’s instead. Asking the right questions and finding out what they’re trying to solve and why they need to solve them, will help you gain leverage in a negotiation. This is because gaining the upper hand when it comes to negotiating is about focusing on the pressures that your opponent face.
8. Know your opponents
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”
By further understanding your opponents better, the easier it is for you to know what their wants and needs are which puts you in a favourable position. To understand them better, always ask as many open-ended questions as possible to gather all the details you can about them.
So if you’re going to ask for something, take the time to find out what motivates that person. Then, make an offer that fuels their motivation. It is important to make them feel as if they are the ones being satisfied as it makes them much more open to giving you what you need.
But, if they still do not want to agree to your terms, don’t lash out and attack them. Instead, think what could possibly motivate the other party while you try to achieve your desired goal as well.
With that said, this does not mean that you give them everything they want – it’s about fulfilling what their basic requirements are while fulfilling yours. Make it a win-win situation.
9. Adapt to the situation
Many of us seem to have the misconception that being assertive, dominant and fearless will be sure fire way to help us clinch the deal. But in some cases, the key to a successful negotiation isn’t exactly about being dominant but rather about finding common ground.
Experts like Researcher Scott Wiltermuth explains this concept over at the Harvard Business Review where successful negotiations are more about finding a complementary relationship than it is about being assertive. This sometimes mean being submissive.
This is achieved when two parties reach dominance complementarity whereby one person in an interaction behaves differently from the other. This means if one negotiator acts submissive the other will act more dominant. Research shows that these individuals who achieve dominance complementarity reached better deals than pairs who are not. In short, this means learning when it is the right time to be aggressive and when not to to be.
10. Listen More than You Talk
“If I listen, I have the advantage, If I speak, others have it.”
Listening sounds simple but it takes effort, energy and patience to do so effectively. Many would be surprise of how impatient others can get while a person is speaking, cutting into their conversation before the speaker can finish.
One of the biggest misconceptions about negotiating is that people feel the need to ramble on and on. They tend to have this perception that more things get done if they talk more.
Instead, of talking more time, listen more instead – Studies prove that great negotiators are those who are able to uncover more needs of others than their less successful counterparts. This finding is important especially for sales people since they make their living by negotiating.
So listen. You can find out what the other party is looking to get out of the negotiations by letting them speak more. This in turn helps you gain insights of what the other party is willing to compromise and where their position stands – The more you know about their position, the clearer it is to for you to offer a deal they can’t resist.
Here’s a video about the power of listening by William Ury, one of the world’s best-known and most influential experts on negotiation:
11. Remain Calm in Dire Situations
It is vital to remain calm under stressful or pressurising situations during a negotiation. A good negotiator is one who does not combust and let their emotions get the better of them. They do not panic and are able to think clearly throughout the process, coming out of the negotiation successfully and unscarred. Bad negotiators on the other hand, end up missing opportunities and creating bad relationships with other prospects which makes it more disadvantageous for themselves.
One way to ensure you do not panic when the other party is pressing you is to alwaysthink positively, focus on your strengths and always remember what your end goal is.
Furthermore research shows we stand a greater chance of success if we focus more on our strengths. When under pressure, try to think of a positive situation, thought or outcome. This will help distract your brain from focusing on the negativity when things don’t seem to be going so well.
“Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. – Han Selye”
This is because thinking positively helps your brain to keep stress in the back of your mind. Just think about it, when you are happy or optimistic, do you ever feel stressed and anxious? Exactly, you don’t. This is because positive thinking shifts your attention to a “stress-free” zone in your brain.
Here’s a video explaining how we can turn our negative energy into something positive:
12. Learn to deal with negative behaviour
Humans are naturally emotionally-driven. But sometimes, letting your emotions get the better of you can end up destroying relationships and businesses. It is evident throughout history that ego and emotions have destroyed many corporations and businesses.The moment you lose your temper, you are in danger of creating bad ties with the prospect when dealing with them in the future or worse, losing them as prospect forever.
Instead, try to detach yourself from your emotions during the situation and focus on closing a deal – something much more rewarding and beneficial in the long run. It’s important to remember that negotiations aren’t personal attacks on a particular person, but rather they are just a form of business.
13. Do not rush a negotiation
One thing is for sure; no one likes to be rushed.
Here’s an example: Imagine being a customer, contemplating on whether you should buy a product and a salesperson is incessantly trying to rush you to the cashier to buy it. The same goes for negotiating.
Nothing will make you look more desperate than being in a constant rush to try and seal the deal. It’s great when a deal is closed quickly so you can reap the profits sown but it’s better to be patient.
Not only do you risk annoying the future prospect, you may also skip over the important points, which can incur losses on your end.
Furthermore, your managers or bosses will not be happy to hear you rushed to close a deal without covering all the necessary bases. Even if you are tight for time, make sure you cover every possible point and not miss out anything important.
14. Have a win-win mindset
The best outcome is when a solution satisfies both you and the other party. To see to it that there are no losers at the end of the deal. This is, undoubtedly, the most preferred negotiation anyone would love to be in.
And this is possible. But it means being willing to put differences aside so you can listen carefully to what both of you want. And then working together to find a win-win solution.
This win-win mindset will not only make you leave the room getting what you want, but it also helps deepen the bond between you and the other person.
This is because you’ve come to appreciate the courtesy and respect the other person has shown you – and likewise with them. If you’re lucky, they may want to work with you again as a future prospect in the long run.
15. Always make sure price is the last negotiation
Never negotiate the price until everything else has been negotiated. This is because money is mostly the only thing your company will ever receive from a buyer.
Furthermore, agreeing on the price first can put you in a disadvantageous position and at risk of a loss. This is especially so if the prospect starts negotiating other terms of the deal after the price has been established.
Ensure that you’re only negotiating the price when it’s the last thing standing between you and a deal.
16. Don’t give in too early
Resist the temptation to give in too quickly when someone asks for a concession. That person is not entitled to anything. And, you shouldn’t feel pressured to meet their needs either.
Giving in too early often results in the decrease of value of your product, solution or services. It may even be the permanent set expectation for future negotiations which can be disadvantageous for you in the long run. This brings us to our next point.
17. Always get something in return
It’s perfectly normal to give concessions in a negotiation from time to time. However, do it in moderation.
The biggest mistake people make is to constantly give something away without getting something in return. This will make your opponent feel entitled to these extra concessions. In the long run, it can make them feel dissatisfied during future negotiations since they’ll start to expect more.
Instead of giving in all the time, try getting something in return as well. Make them earn these concessions so they’ll appreciate everything you’ve given up to them. This is to ensure they do not take you for granted.
For example, if a prospect wants a discount on the price, make it conditional on a longer contract. Or, if a prospect wants something else thrown in with their purchase, make it conditional on signing a deal immediately.
The arrangement can be made in any way so long as you’re also getting something in return.
18. Be realistic
A study conducted by Forbes found that negotiators who do better than the average have high but realistic goals.
Great negotiators observe, calculate and rely on their gut feeling to get a good read on what might happen and what might not.
They also have a profound understanding of what’s in the field of play and what’s beyond, making them good decision makers. As a result, their trades, ideas and solutions are often a success.
19. Learn to walk away
Sometimes, we know a deal can’t be made and that’s okay. There’s no point wasting you and the other party’s time if both of you cannot settle.
However, many seem to have this misconception that they must clinch the deal which may backfire on them. For instance, if you constantly give large concessions just to get deals, you’ll only be incurring losses at your end.
In short, know when a deal is no longer attainable so you know when to stop. If a deal cannot be salvaged or does not benefit you, it’s okay to walk away. This can be challenging when sales are slow but remember that there will always be someone to sell to if you keep your pipeline full.
20. Practice, practice, practice!
This is the most important and most the underrated strategy. Without enough research on the topic, we can all agree that not many are able to sound convincing when negotiating. Well, the same goes for practicing.
Negotiating like any other skill, requires practice in order for an individual to be good at it. To improve, try to condition yourself to negotiate at every opportunity.
Not only will it help you become more attuned with negotiating, it also increases your success rate over time. In addition, you become much more confident and well-respected amongst your peers, customers and even opponents.
Summing it Up
Overall, negotiation is a mix of art and science. It takes a combination of street smarts, unwavering discipline and dedicated time spent on research, the thought process and execution.
Once you’ve mastered negotiating, the hard work will be worth it. It’ll help unlock your ability to get the best deal possible under any circumstances.
With that being said, negotiating does not have one format or structure that’s always the right answer. Instead, it’s about understanding how to convince your prospects with the tips provided in the right situation. So what method you use will determine whether you successfully clinch the deal.
And there you have it! Make full use of these 20 tips to help hone your negotiation skills. Leave a comment below if it worked for you!