There's one in every crowd. You know who I'm talking about. You're giving your presentation and he or she is sitting there, arms crossed, just staring at you. You can practically read his or her thoughts...
Why am I wasting my time with this crap.
If they participate at all, it's to ask challenging or combative questions. At best, you get non-engagement. At worst, you get hostility.
How do you handle this person? Do you ignore him or her? Do you try to convert him/her over to your side?
She suggests that in the middle or definitely at the end of your training session, go around the room and ask what each participant got out of the session. She suggests starting with the naysayer.
Now, I would have chosen the opposite approach. I've seen how the first person can set the tone for the rest of the group. Just look at focus groups. I attended one last week where the first participant mentioned where his son went to college. Every participant after that announced where his or her children went to college. So I'd be afraid this would set a negative tone for the rest of the group - but Laura has a brilliant suggestion:
Ask the naysayer, "What was the least boring part of the session?"
Wow - cool idea. You are speaking your naysayer's language. You're connecting with them. You're letting them know, "Yeah, I know you weren't very into the training, but was there even one thing that could be useful to you?"
When you're dealing with a skeptic, address their skepticism. Trying to wow them with a "positive spin" (their words) rarely works.
Laura points out that the other plus of starting with the naysayer, is that as you move on to more enthusiastic participants, the energy builds and you end on a high note.
If you find yourself in this situation (and if you do much public speaking, you will), give this technique a try.
What techniques do you use to deal with naysayers at your presentations?