Public Speaking

How to Handle a Heckler

Dealing with hecklers is never fun. Fortunately for us, they rarely show themselves during presentations (most people are afraid of looking bad in front of large groups).

That said, it’s good to be prepared. As a presenter, hecklers can really throw you off and distract your audience. So what’s the best way to handle one?

We’ve rounded up five tips to help you get started:

  1. Never reward interrupting. When someone starts talking over you or chatting with their neighbor, keep going. Make them look rude.

  2. Respond if you need to. Sometimes you just have to respond to the comments. When this happens, make sure you’re addressing the whole audience and not just the heckler. If you only address the heckler, it may invite them to continue.

    • That said, at a certain point, it is okay to make a firm, direct request to the heckler to stop. Revert to Tip #3 and #4 for this.

  3. Don’t try to be funny. Unless you have experience doing stand-up, avoid trying to come up with a witty response - it may fall flat. You can still be pleasant, but deal with the heckler head-on.

  4. Stay calm and gracious. Shake off whatever the heckler has to say, and don’t let them ruin the rest of your presentation. Remember that you want to be the most mature and positive person in the room. Lose your cool and you might lose your momentum - as well as the rest of your audience.

  5. Don’t let it get personal. Focus on the subject matter, instead of attacking the individual. Avoid trying to get even.

Finally, remember that you’re serving the group’s needs - not the individual’s. Don’t let one naysayer drive a wedge between you and your audience!

Need more advice?

Check out these posts on dealing with hecklers and restoring order.

10 Timeless Tips for Giving Effective Presentations

Public Speaking in a Meeting

Regardless of whatever industry you're in, it’s likely that you will have to give a presentation at some point in your life. And if you’re like any of our clients, maybe you’re actively speaking at conferences and events.

So what do you need to know about giving a presentation?

Here are 10 tips for delivering a clear, understandable, and thought-provoking message.

  1. Keep it simple. Unnecessary complexity should always be avoided. Don’t whip out a thesaurus before your presentation in an effort to sound more intelligent. Be real, be yourself, and use your own words.

  2. Stick to three key points. Narrow your focus - state your three points at the beginning of your presentation, and then reiterate them at the end. These are those key takeaways that your audience won’t want to forget.

  3. Engage your audience. Be interactive during your talk by finding ways to keep your audience involved. How? That’s up to you to decide! (Here are 8 ways to make your presentation more interactive.)

  4. Use visuals. One way to engage your audience (see point #3) is by using memorable visuals to emphasize your point. Stay away from too many bullet points and information overload.

  5. Be honest. Don’t try to fake passion for a topic that you don’t actually care about (or know nothing about). Your audience will see right through you.

  6. Move around. It’s the same as going to a concert. Audiences want to watch something dynamic. So walk around, use your hands (not too much though - it can be distracting), and make your point more visually appealing.

  7. Share stories. Help your audience relate to your message by incorporating a personal anecdote or two. Just make sure you don’t pepper the presentation with too much of your personal life…

  8. Be conversational. Remember that it’s not a lecture. We cannot stress this enough.

  9. Consult an expert. Always strive to improve your public speaking style and the quality of your presentations. Watch how-to videos, pay attention to other speakers onstage, read articles, take a course in public speaking, hire a vocal coach - always try to do and be better.

  10. Practice makes perfect. You can never practice too much. Rehearse in front of others or in front of a mirror, and don’t forget it’s okay to start small and then work your way up!

Interested in more? Here are 5 Speaker Fails to Avoid.

You can also view the original Entrepreneur article by Jacqueline Whitmore here.

Baby Steps: Getting on Stage for the First Time

“Like so many other aspects of the working world, getting into speaking gigs can be a catch-22. You need experience to get the gigs, but you need the gigs to get the experience.”

- Megan Berry, VP of Product at Rebelmouse

Conference Pic.jpeg

When it comes to speaking at events and conferences, expecting to immediately book the biggest gigs or get paid is unrealistic and honestly, not the smartest idea. It’s important to think practical and realistic to start, target the right events for your expertise and audience, and work your way up.

Even the most popular, high profile speakers have had to start somewhere - and with good reason, as the worst place to do your first presentation would be on-stage in front of hundreds of people! Becoming a great speaker requires practice and comes with experience. It means being proactive and investing both time and effort in your message, as well as your speaking strategy.

The result is a ripple effect, as one speaking engagement can open the door to another. Plus, to get into some of those bigger, more established conferences, you usually need past speaking experience. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the submission process, many applications even ask for videos of you speaking. Without one, you might not even be considered.)

So as Berry says, find the low-hanging fruit first. Not getting enough - or any - inbound requests to speak? Try meetups and panels. “Solo gigs are harder to get than panel gigs.” And there are dozens of meetups and small events happening in every city, every month. You just have to take the time to look for them.

Because remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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For more tips on securing more speaking gigs, check out this article.

Need help getting started? Not sure what events would be interested in you? Contact us at speak@credpr.com.

5 Speaker Fails You Need to Avoid

As the role of thought leadership continues to gain importance in generating new business opportunities, speaking engagements are becoming more essential to building a brand. The problem? The demand for speakers is greater than ever - even with the number of events, webinars, podcasts, etc. on the rise.

In other words, every opportunity is equally as important in establishing your speaking cred. If your audience isn’t engaged, you’re failing them and also limiting your scope for future opportunities.

Here is a list of the top five most common fails that you, as a speaker, need to avoid:

1. Misreading or not recognizing interest - Don’t fret if you only see the tops of people’s heads. “Old school” speakers might tell you to measure interest by the number of people who are making eye contact with you. However, in this digital age, keep in mind that your most engaged audience members are rapidly tweeting out your content as you speak. (So don’t ask people to turn off their phones, and try to create “tweetable” quotes!)

2. Not being involved in conversation on social media - Set yourself apart by taking part in the conversations occurring online and networking with other attendees ahead of time. This can help cultivate interest and drive attendance at your panel or session - especially important for those events that have concurrent sessions.

3. Reading PowerPoint slides or notes verbatim - Don’t do it. As digital storyteller Christina Green states, “If you don’t know the topic well enough to discuss it without reading, you’re probably not the best person to lead the discussion.” #Truth

4. Not knowing your audience - Sure, you can up-cycle parts of your old presentations. Since every audience has different needs and concerns, you should still be personalizing the content for each audience. Make sure what you have to share is actually applicable; otherwise, you’re wasting their (and your) time.

5. Using too much ‘marketing speak’ - As mentioned above, know your audience - but also know how they speak. Most people want to be spoken to in easily digestible terms, save the small percentage of “C-Suite who are are still quoting management books from the ‘80s.”

There you have it! Take these insights into consideration as you plan your next presentation, and become a better, more conscious and more engaging speaker that people will rave about.

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FOR THE FULL LIST OF 11 SPEAKING FAILS TO AVOID, CLICK HERE.

Lessons Learned: Public Speaking

"Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.”

Robert Ballard, discoverer of Titanic (1985)

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Hosted by some of the brightest innovators and professionals around the world, today’s TED talks have become the gold standard in public speaking. It’s no surprise then that TED (which stands for technology, entertainment, and design) and TED-style events are exploding everywhere.

Rather than being envious of these individuals’ awesome presentation skills (it’s hard not to be - we know), what can we learn from them to make ourselves better, more engaging public speakers?

We’ve pulled the top three lessons by former news anchor and keynote speaker Carmine Gallo in his article 9 Public-Speaking Lessons From The World's Greatest TED Talks. Keep these in mind as you plan your next presentation!

  • First, tell a story. The human brain loves the storytelling style. We’ve been telling stories for generations, long before the invention of writing. Many anthropologists say that stories are central to human existence, serving as recognizable patterns in which we find meaning. So instead of bombarding your audience with statistics and figures, make your presentation more personal.

  • Second, teach your audience something they didn’t already know. According to research, there is a region of our midbrain, called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area (SN/VTA), that can only be activated with absolutely novel stimuli. In layman’s terms, we are hardwired to love novelty.

  • Third, know your purpose, and tap into the right emotions. One way to grab your audience’s attention is by delivering jaw-dropping moments that trigger certain emotions. As Gallo mentions, speakers should try to elicit joy, fear, shock, or surprise in order to have a stronger effect on the listener - it’ll help them remember your presentation long after it’s over.

When asked what they thought was the most important lesson regarding public speaking, a few team members at credPR shared their insights:

  1. “You never know who is going to be in the audience!” - Caitlin

  2. “Even if you’re not confident, pretend that you are. Fake it till you make it!” - Stephanie B.

  3. “Push each other. Execs and moderators get nervous when discussing controversial issues and lean on “safe topics.” It’s important to push each other out of their comfort zone.” - Laura

  4. “Everyone has a good story to tell. The key is to find the right audience!” - Leah

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What do you think is the most important thing to know about public speaking? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Need help finding your audience? That’s our specialty! 

Get in touch with us at hello@credpr.com.