Public Speaking – How do you cope with a hostile AUDIENCE?

Today, let’s look at how you should deal with a hostile audience or at least with a few unfriendly faces!

Yesterday, I was speaking with a lady who came to me for some coaching advice. She said she’d presented once before and somebody in the audience had appeared to give her a very hostile look.

She found it both disturbing and distracting!

And now, she’s reluctant to do any more public speaking.

What a shame!

When we’re on stage, just a raised eyebrow or a frown from an audience member can be enough to unsteady us and make us question ourselves. Here are a few suggestions to help you cope with a tough audience.

Your responsibility during public speaking

Remember your responsibility is to the audience as a whole. If the majority seem to be engaged and happy then work with that. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been so concerned by the minority who looked unhappy that I wasn’t present to the people who seemed satisfied and interested.

Maybe someone just had a bad day, or there’s some problem to be solved that they’re mulling over, or they’re hungry, or tired, or sick! 

When they look too serious or bored

Sometimes, you feel someone isn’t enjoying your presentation when, in fact, they look serious because they’re listening intently to what you have to say. 

Other times, they’re not engaged. So don’t be afraid to interact with your audience and ask them to get involved…if people look a bit bored this is often a great solution (and should really be baked into your presentation while you’re planning and creating it, rather than added on the fly during the talk!!)

Asking can Clarify things during Public Speaking

If the majority seem dissatisfied, restless or unhappy, feel free to stop your presentation and reach out to them. Maybe they were expecting a completely different presentation or perhaps you’re in the wrong room and speaking to the wrong group! (Don’t laugh – I’ve heard of this happening before!)

Better to discover the issue early on and adapt, than doggedly get through your presentation only to realise later on that you were off course, or the audience had been marketed a different talk than you delivered.

Carry On!

But in most situations, nothing’s wrong. You’re being a little bit sensitive.

So plow on! Don’t allow one or two people, who just happen to have slightly miserable expressions, to put you off.

Be radiant, be you, deliver your material and serve those people who are encouraging, listening intently and enjoying your presentation!


P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you improve your speaking or grow your business:

1 – Get my free guide – 27 places to find speaking opportunities.

Find out where your next speaking opportunity might come from – whether you’re a beginner, intermediate or experienced speaker.

2 – Join my Facebook Group – Public Speaking for Female Coaches and Entrepreneurs.

Join us for tips, discussions and community!

3 – Are you an ambitious coach, consultant or small business owner? If you’d like to wow your audiences and find more speaking opportunities, then watch the FREE on-demand training video here:

4 – Find out about my VIP Days and private coaching.

Book me for a VIP half or full-day session if you want to make some serious progress! We could help you create a business networking strategy and perfect your pitch. Or we could work on your signature talk so that audience members or hungry to work with you. Or we could explore frameworks and strategies to help give you confidence whether you’re speaking at conferences, in meetings or at other events. Or more!!