You are asked to give a speech to a group where you have to take a position on a topic. Perhaps you know that not everyone in the group will be in agreement. There could be some hostility, or perhaps an emotional reaction from the audience.

How do you work to diffuse emotions or hostility? Here are some tips to make it a successful speech, that may even allow you to lay some common ground:

  1. Know your audience – who are you speaking to? What is their level of experience, education, professional background? How can you relate to them?
  2. Know your facts – lay out an organized speech with facts and the best research to back up the facts.
  3. First, start by discussing points on which most will agree.
  4. Share your perspective and why you believe what you do.
  5. Be tactful and kind in responses to questions – i.e. “Great question, very well-thought out! Let me take a crack at it…”
  6. See things from their viewpoint, ask questions to learn more about their perspective.

Last, if you do a Q&A and find that people are not asking questions as much as they are complaining, say, “I would love to respond to your question if you have one,” otherwise, move to the next person. Remember to smile throughout and use strategic pauses to demonstrate caring and thoughtful consideration.

Yours in clarity,
Jennifer Ferrero, APR, CC, CL
Switch Up Consulting
Public Relations & Communications Consulting