Improvisation During Online Presentation

A row of yellow smiling people and a one gray and sad under the magnifying glass

“Evil” viewers should not be feared, but specifically sought (С) geralt/Pixabay

Tips for those who have to deal with unexpected audience reactions.

Both experienced speakers and frequent visitors to online events are well aware that presenters can be conditionally divided into two categories. The first – and the minority – confidently hold the attention of any – even the most complex, conditionally ‘evil’ audience. The latter works well only with a conditionally “kind” audience, which allows one to make a presentation without deviating significantly from the script.

The former calmly, often with humor, reacts to tricky, uncomfortable or casually-related-to-the-presentation’s-topic questions and comments, using them to their advantage. As a result, thanks to resourceful improvisations, these presentations go even better and with greater effect than originally planned.

The latter, finding themselves in a similar situation, usually get annoyed and lose their temper or begin to speak quietly and mumble. At best, they try to dissuade such questions with meaningless phrases like: “This is not relevant to the case.”

Of course, every presenter, especially those aimed at a high commercial result, wants to belong to the first category. But at the same time, many are convinced that the ability to improvise is an innate talent that either exists or does not. However, this mistaken thinking is akin to a similar conceptualization about actors and writers. If it were only a matter of innate talent, all schools of acting and writing would go bankrupt.

In other words, you can learn to improvise for your own benefit, enabling you to work with an “evil” audience. Oratory and acting courses taken for this purpose, by the way, will not be superfluous at all. But first, try to follow a few of our tips.

Let’s start with the fact that you must fundamentally change your attitude towards the ”evil” audience. These viewers are exactly who you are looking for. As a rule, these are people who are interested in the subject, seeking to get to the bottom of the matter, which means they are potentially interested in your product or service. Don’t treat them like enemies attacking you. With their unexpected questions, comments and remarks, they are trying to discover how much what you are offering suits them. Through their actions, they are giving you the opportunity to reveal your product from another perspective  and provide this information to the other participants in the presentation.

Accordingly, the presence of “evil” spectators should not be feared. This is cause for joy. You need to look for such visitors and focus on them when preparing a presentation.

What needs to be done to work with an “evil” audience and be successful?

  • Be sure you understand everything that will be mentioned in the presentation. Take the time to clarify information on the nuances that you could not figure out on your own from colleagues and third-party specialists. You need to know for sure what everything belongs to, where it can be used, what it can be combined with, and so on and so forth.
  • Check and double-check that all presentation materials, including illustrations and quotes, fit the theme of the presentation. It happens (often) that a phrase or picture, suitable at first glance, will turn out to be incompatible, absurd or simply ridiculous upon closer examination.
  • Train. This is perhaps our main piece of advice. The well-known anecdote, “The best presentation is always well rehearsed” is one of the first rules of acting and public speaking. The more possible situations you work out in advance, even the most unlikely, the easier it will be to react confidently during a real presentation. Ask colleagues, friends and relatives to help you with your workouts. The more realistic the rehearsals are, the better. Ideally, they should be held in the same mode and format as the real event. Thanks to these rehearsals, you will learn to quickly, calmly and with humor fend off any attacks from an “evil” audience. In addition, you will be able to identify weaknesses in both the presentation and your preparation.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”. Rehearsals and training are not able to prepare you for all situations that may arise in reality. If you really don’t know what to say, react with something like this: “Thanks for your original and interesting question. We have not yet identified a complete and accurate answer to it, but our team is currently working on it. I will provide the answer to it by mail or in another convenient way.”

Let’s summarize:

The ”evil” audience that asks difficult questions is the main object of professional interest for presenters. Speakers should strive to work with them  through specific preparation. Improvising and answering non-standard questions and comments can be learned through training and careful, detailed study of your event’s materials.

Good luck to everyone and high income! And in case you don’t want to push your luck with too much improvisation, use ROI4Presenter prompter for online presentation and insert all the necessary information on the FAQ slides. 

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