6 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Audience

Preparing for a public speech or a presentation is a big task that requires diligent preparation and rigorous practice. In addition to working on your content and body language, you also need to calm your nerves down and be able to face an audience with confidence.

More often than not, the audience is usually supportive and in awe of your ability to speak with conviction. However, there can be times when you face a difficult audience. Or maybe a couple of bad actors who just want to pull you down with intentionally tough questions. Jeers and boos that are meant to throw you off your game. What should you do to deal with a difficult audience member? Here are 6 ways:

Just Ignore


If someone in the audience is trying to be difficult or interrupt constantly, you can simply ignore that person. This is known as the “Cat-String Theory.” When you keep giving the difficult person attention, he or she will continue to interrupt, just like a cat that keeps grabbing a piece of string that is being jerked in its front. The moment you let the string fall to the floor, the cat will lose interest. Similarly, the difficult person will lose interest once they realise they are not getting the attention they wanted.

Set Your Limits

At the start of your speech or presentation, you can set the expectations of your audience by defining the limits in which they can ask something. For example:

“In the interest of time and to ensure you all have at least one opportunity to ask me something, I’d be grateful if you would limit the questions to one each please.”

Off Line It

You can say:

“Yes Rohan…” OR “Could I have your name, sir? Rohan Sharma, is it? Well, Rohan, you have some very good questions but we have limited time today to cover everything. Would you mind giving the rest of your comments after the session?

OR “That’s an excellent question and I would like to give you the correct answer. Can we connect for this afterwards?”

Be a Politician

Be a politician

You can take a cue from politicians, who are masters at evading difficult questions. They know exactly what they wan to talk about and what they don’t. Whenever they are asked a difficult question, they side-step it and answer what they feel comfortable with. For example:

“Yes, that’s an excellent question about healthcare funding…thank you for that. And this itself begs the larger question about funding pensions and social security. According to initiatives taken by our government, our funding targets have successfully been achieved and have been double the amount anticipated by the opposition.”

Just answer what you want to, you’re the master of the stage!

Ask Them To Write Their Questions

You can say that due to paucity of time, it is recommended that all the questions by the audience be noted down at the back of their business cards, or mailed at your official email and you will get in touch later with them to discuss the same.

Embarrass Them With a Joke


Hecklers are mostly cowards who would quiver in your situation. They will always be glad and also jealous that you are on the stage and not them. When you want to quieten such a person, you can call them out, make them give their complete details and crack a joke out of it. You will find that they will remain absolutely silent for the rest of your speech!

Giving an amazing public speech is a craft that needs to be mastered through assiduous preparation, a great platform and mentors who can inspire you to conquer the world. Subscribe to Pep Talk India’s YouTube channel to learn the best tricks and tips necessary to give a great speech. Enroll in Pep Talk India classroom courses or online classes to level up your career today!


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