Part 2: Public Speaking on Difficult Topics
Whether you have to deal with employees and investors or speak in front of people, as a business individual you must learn to cope in order to thrive. When holding speeches, you need to find a way to influence people. Take action and speak directly to them. If someone asks questions, particularly challenging ones, in front of an audience, you are compelled to convince the audience that you can handle the pressure.
How do you stay calm when all eyes are on you? For starters, present yourself as a confident, determined leader. Here are some more guidelines on improving speaking abilities and dealing with tough situations during business presentations.
Enter meetings prepared
Excellent public speakers take all the time they need to foresee potential questions the audience may have for them. Whilst it is a great idea to be prepared for the unexpected, memorizing all answers to all potential questions is impossible. What you can and should do is organize questions into categories or sections. Come up with a neutral answer for each section. This way, regardless of that question’s nature, you will be able to answer it following a specific “trigger” that will determine which category it belongs to.
Don’t lie, no matter what
Dealing with tough questions during business meetings can be dreadful. It can get even worse if you choose to lie to get out of a bad situation. It’s never a good idea to make things up. Be forthcoming and honest, even if that could mean admitting you can’t answer certain questions. If you’re speaking in front of an audience and someone asks a question you don’t have an answer to, you can always say something like: “I would love to give you a straight answer, but sadly I’m not familiar with the topic. Maybe we can work an answer together. Does anyone else have an opinion?”
Address at the public with the intension of including them into your speech. This says a lot about you as a person, but also as a business individual. As humans, we all make mistakes so we must not be ashamed that we don’t have all the answers. Lying is a lot more shameful though!
How do you build trust and speaking in front of an audience on difficult topics? Can you persuade people to listen to what you have to say without confusing them? Because that’s the secret to coping when you’re obligated to deal with tricky scenarios; start by making eye contact with the audience. Speak directly at them because they are important. Make them believe what you’re trying to say using your body language and charisma. Talk slow and fluent, and welcome questions. Regardless of the nature of the subject debated, you must find a way to clarify an issue. Come up with a personalized response by using your personality to make it unique. Originality always gauges attention!
Make smart pauses and give yourself enough time to think
It’s never a good idea to jump from one question to another without making any pauses. It’s exhausting, for you and for your audience, not to mention confusing. Before giving an answer, take 5-10 seconds to think before giving an answer. Create some tension, but make sure your answer is straight. Making a pause doesn’t mean you’re weak; on the contrary, it means you’re a calculated person who know exactly what to say when to say it.
End your speech respectfully
Dealing with challenging topics when speaking in public can be nerve-racking. However, you are advised to end it as respectfully as possible. Generally speaking, tough topics trigger endless questions. However, it is impossible to cover them all. Put an end to a series of similar questions by saying something like: “I can see this topic has triggered a lot disdain. I’ve tried to answer most questions, but sadly we’re running out of time. How about we continue this discussion on our next appointment?” Being polite is paramount. It keeps the audience engaged.
As much as you hate speaking in public, in the business world this activity can’t be avoided. Holding presentations and being able to engage in a conversation is vital for entrepreneurs and business owners. You can’t run a business successfully if you can’t prove that you have sound leadership skills!
William Taylor wrote this article. He is a frequent writer who has contributed many high quality articles to various business sites. He also writes for the site London Speaker Bureau which is world’s leading speaker and advisory network.