A Handful of Tips 26 –
Coping with Hecklers
Five of the best tips on ways to cope with hecklers and a hostile audience when making a speech
Handling hecklers requires care and skill. Dealing with interjections is a high risk activity. In most cases the audience will be on your side and resent interjections.
1. Answer interjections only when you can use them to your advantage
Ignoring them can be infuriating to the interjector. It’s best to smile and carry on.
If the interjector persists offer to discuss the issues with them when you have finished. Tell them, “Other people have come to hear what I have to say. Please let them hear the my news.”
2. Don’t get angry and argue
Continue in a friendly manner and the audience will admire you for your control and composure.
3. Humorous one-liners can be effective
Some people are brilliant with one-liners. Prepare a few ‘put-downs’ just in case you need them. If you use one, return to your main message quickly.
Avoid being side-tracked.
4. Present your facts so there is no basis for an argument
Your audience will respond to good manners if you have something worthwhile to tell them. They like new information, so be factual and professional.
Every sentence you utter should have some content that keeps them interested.
5. If necessary, appeal to the chairperson for help
If persistent interjectors or questioners keep annoying you it is the chairperson’s role to deal with the situation.
Always remember if you are using a microphone you can have the volume increased and gain an instant advantage over the hecklers.
“Don’t tell people what they already know.
Tell them something new.”
Source: Advice from three former New Zealand Prime Ministers.