Within every training course, every event, every workshop – there is always one audience member who presents a verbal challenge to the speaker.

Sometimes it is a comment designed to provoke gasps and grab attention  from the audience. Other  times, it is specific and challenging question creating an uncomfortable and negative  classroom environment.  In many ways, it is the desire to shine the spotlight and focus on themselves and their expertise rather than expected content. Whatever, the cause or reasons, the disruption occurs all too frequently within formal learning events.

Over the years, I have observed many corporate training professionals and presenters. Several have developed creative methods to handling those challenging audience members. Some methods I have personally observed (and utilized subsequently include:

* Mirroring! Restating the disruptive question or comment.

  • Example: “If I understood you correctly, you are asking…” This allows the trainer to verify the real question, ensures you get confirmation from the audience member asking the question, and gives a moment or pause to the gather one’s thoughts.
quote - we cannot solve our problems

* Share the wealth!  Take a moment to ask the audience if they have additional input.

  • Example: “Bob is asking…. Has anyone encountered this issue or have any thoughts?”   Why?  This technique can remove the spotlight from Bob and expand it to Bob’s peers whom he respects (ideally).

* Move on! Quickly state how and when you will address the disruptive question / statement – and then change the subject.

  • Example “That’s a great question, and it will be addressed later during the topic entitled…. Let’s focus on [insert topic].

W o r k s h o p G u i d e

Fierce and Focused: 55 Workplace Civility Quotations to Support Your Working Life

Workplace civility can be an effective tool in the global workplace. Enclosed you will find encouragement curated according to ten common categories, including workplace bullying, leadership, communication, workplace skills, and excellence.


Additional Reading For You:

Michel Hobson is one of the most sought-after workplace training leaders in the region. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans multiple countries and hundreds of companies.

As the founder of HobsonTraining.com and WorkshopDesigner.com, plus 20+ years in the corporate Learning and Development industry, her workplace training workshops and seminars are designed to improve skills and elevate team members to measurable, actionable, improved performance.

Of Michel’s many awards and accolades, she is an Epic Credentialed Trainer, and an approved facilitator for Franklin Covey’s 5 Choices of Extraordinary Productivity. Michel has project managed learning conferences for major organizations including IBM, Bank of America, Ericsson, Mount Sinai Miami Beach, Zales, etc.   She has delivered corporate workshops for healthcare, retail, manufacturing, banking, mortgage, and others. Her newest book is Fierce and Focused


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