How to Handle Disagreements When Making a Presentation

As a leader you must always be selling, like it or not. You will have the challenge to make presentations to sell your ideas, programs and projects. Often there will be someone in your audience who does not necessarily agree with your approach. The way you handle them will help determine how well you will be regarded as a leader.

When my grandson was 21, and an aspiring manufacturer’s rep, he came to me with a dilemma. It appears that while giving his marketing presentation on his product line to professional groups he almost always has some person who disagreed with him.

Problem: How do you handle that?

Resolution: Do your homework if you want to be a successful and respected leader! Prepare for expected responses in advance. That will narrow the chances of you experiencing a negative response or opinion for which you were not otherwise prepared. However, even the best preparation may not cover all the bases. When that unexpected response occurs (and it will) then try this two step almost universally applicable approach. It may rescue your credibility and audience respect:

Step One: Ask two questions:

  1. “Why do you think that?”
  2. After the person responds ask:
  3. “What do you mean by that?”

Listen carefully and follow-up using Step Two:

Step Two:

1. If it appears that this is just a one person opinion who is trying to assert a pseudo expertise, then involve your audience with: “That’s an interesting approach. I would like to know how many others share that opinion and would like to respond.”

2. If it appears that the person does indeed have advanced expertise, respond with:

“You’re obviously an expert at this, but I’m not sure everyone here has your knowledge. Rather than take their time now I would like to meet with you privately after and get your advice. Thank you” Then proceed as rehearsed and planned for the balance of your presentation.

Memorize the two questions in Step One above to the point where they are almost automatic. This will prevent you from getting caught short with a deer in the headlights look. It also gives you “think” time while the other person is speaking. But, be careful you don’t tune them out entirely for they may have valid points.

Will this work all the time? No. Will it work the majority of the time? You bet! It has worked for me almost magically over the years in so many leadership situations that required persuasion. By the way, my grandson couldn’t wait to tell me how well this worked for him.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.