You may have people interrupting, grandstanding or dragging you down the rabbit hole in the form of questions. Learn how to deal with these types of interruptions in a calm and collected way.
During your Q&A, several unplanned or unexpected things might happen. For instance, the interrupter—somebody who doesn’t let you finish what you’re saying and just interrupts you, maybe once, maybe twice, maybe constantly. So what do you do with somebody who’s interrupting you? Well, if it’s the boss or if it’s the main person you’re trying to do business with, guess what? You need to let them interrupt you. Why are they interrupting you? More than likely you’re not giving them the information that they want at that moment, so they’re trying to get from you what they really need. So don’t take that interruption as a negative thing happening in the conversation. Go ahead and let it happen. Don’t take it personally. Just relax, let them interrupt you. If it’s not the head person in the room, you may need to take a quick break and pull that person aside and ask them to hold their questions ‘til the end because they’re becoming a little bit disruptive. But usually the audience in the room will start to be on your side as the presenter if someone is doing something that they really shouldn’t be doing.
Another unexpected event during meetings is the grandstander—the person in the room who knows as much as you know or maybe more; or worse, they want to let the room know that they know something that you don’t know. Well, I’ve got to tell you, if it’s the main person in the room let them grandstand for a little bit. But usually it’s not the person in charge. If you walk over to them and make friends with them, and do something like, “Okay, I can tell that you know just about everything I’m going to say here, maybe you even know more than me. I would love it if you’d just keep me honest and if I say anything or do anything that’s wrong, could you pipe up and let us all know?” And usually after you do that, and you make friends with the person, usually they’ll relax and they’ll calm down and they’ll stop grandstanding. So let the grandstander be there, but make them part of the event, make them part of the solution, not the problem.
So another thing that happens during Q&A is getting dragged down the rabbit hole. Someone in the audience asks you a question, you answer the question. That same person asks you another question that drags you further down that line of thinking, and they keep going back and forth, and back and forth. At some point, when you realize that this is happening, it’s your responsibility to ask the audience if you want to continue on this line of questioning and answers, or would you rather take that conversation offline and get back to what the audience wants to hear. And all you need to do is ask. If they say, “No, let’s keep going down that line of thinking,” then go ahead. If they say, “No, let’s move on,” then you have your answer. If it’s the boss, if it’s the main investor in the room, let him drag you down the rabbit hole because that way you know what’s important to them. Simple as that.