As a business leader, it’s crucial that you learn how to face many people. You’re not only going to meet your employees and investors in a small meeting room. At some point, you need to present your products and services to a lot of people. Before, most leaders were at the back while working quietly. These days, with the rise of top tech leaders in Google, Apple and Facebook, it’s not enough to be working behind the scenes.
The problem is that you might be a gifted leader and innovator, but you’re not a good public speaker. As such, you worry that things won’t go as planned the moment you start opening your mouth. Worse, you need to face potential hecklers who have issues with the products you sell or with your leadership. In this digital age, any action might quickly spread and adversely impact your company if you fail to handle the situation.
Allow the heckler to speak
You can’t act like a dictator and tell your security team to throw the person out of the venue. Perhaps, that person has something authentic to say or questions to ask. Allow the person to speak as long as there are no verbal or physical threats. Try your best to respond to the question and clarify your stance.
Your calmness during a tense moment like this will tell the world what kind of leader you are. If you start to freak out, it’s a sign that you’re an unstable leader. You do well when things go your way, but you suddenly have an unwanted reaction as soon as you face an unfamiliar situation.
Keep your security team on stand-by
You don’t need to deal with a heckler or potential hecklers if you have a strong security team. You create this event for people who want to know more about what you offer. Therefore, it is crucial for these people to be a priority. You can open other avenues to air grievances, but the public product presentation is not the right time to do it.
Besides, you don’t know if the person has a firearm. You won’t know the intention of these hecklers, so a security team is necessary.
Go back to the presentation
You can’t let these people take away the news from you. The goal is for everyone to know about your products and services. The journalists present during the event need to stick with that headline and not about the heckler who tried to destroy you. Show that you’re in control of the situation and you can steer the conversation back to where it needs to be.
It also helps to be ready with what you are going to say or at least know the flow of your ideas. Use an AV display stand or projector mount if you’re going to present your ideas using slides. You want to make it easy for the people in the room to understand what you’re saying, especially if it goes on for a while. Try to relax and hope that you can survive this ordeal.