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Presenting to Difficult Audiences

This KnowledgeBase archive includes content and external links that were accurate and relevant as of September 30, 2019.

Not everyone may be receptive to the message being conveyed. Here are five suggestions for presenting difficult messages to audiences.

  • Anticipate their questions, concerns, and objections. Try to think ahead of time about what this particular audience will not like about what you have to say, and determine calm, measured, logical, and thorough responses for them. If possible, sit down with someone who knows your audience well to get their feedback on what questions or concerns they may raise and how they might react to your answers. During the presentation, this will help you keep from getting frustrated and defensive.
  • Have a primary figure in your initiative present the findings. A director or higher-up in your program staff can deliver the data with a greater amount of authority (even if that authority is mainly in the minds of the audience!) than someone lower on the initiative's totem pole.
  • Have someone else give out the information. With a particularly hostile or uninformed audience, or an audience to which you do not normally have access, you may wish to let someone outside your group or initiative relay the evaluation findings -- a member of that group, for example.
  • Reinforce the data repeatedly. If what you are saying to the audience does not seem to be sinking in, repeat it! Hearing it more than once may be the only thing your audience needs to properly understand the information being presented to them.
  • Keep your cool. At all times, no matter how hostile or unreceptive your audience may seem, do your best to remain calm, professional, and cordial.


Captured from The Community Toolbox website at

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