Heated situations

As the chairperson or organiser, there are lots of tools and tricks you can use to make sure your event and discussion runs smoothly.

Chairing events and facilitating discussions can sometimes be tricky. People require sensitive management. Equipment failure, speakers and attendees arriving late and many other unexpected events can require you to make adjustments. Each of these images has an experience you can learn from.

<p>If all equipment fails</p>
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If all equipment fails

<p>If nobody is asking questions</p>
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If nobody is asking questions

<p>If someone is overly negative</p>
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If someone is overly negative

<p>If someone is particularly challenging</p>
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If someone is particularly challenging

<p>If there are competitive parties in the room</p>
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If there are competitive parties in the room

<p>If a guest speaker does not turn up</p>
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If a guest speaker does not turn up

Setting up for success

Good preparation, chairing and framing of events can help reduce the likelihood of heated/awkward situations arising. Here are some things to think about:

Sell the benefits at the very start – or even before. Some people may arrive at events with negative or pre-conceived ideas. We need to arouse their interest within the first minute of the session and assure them that it is going to be interesting, interactive, fun and well worth their time.

As people arrive, show them that you are warm, friendly, interested in them, and keen to make the session useful for them. Do not use the excuse that you are doing your last minute preparations; you should have done that before!

Introduce them to each other – Even if they are from the same organisation, do not assume they know each other. Introducing guests helps create a friendlier atmosphere and will make people feel more comfortable.

Establish your own credibility – without ‘showing off’, let the audience know that you are experienced, and have had some success with the topic you are discussing. Give them some examples of some of the results you are pleased with. Involve them – Get people actively involved by asking questions, movement, getting them touching, feeling, smelling and doing will help make the session memorable and fun for both you and the audience. It also helps to capture the attention of those people who may otherwise easily be distracted or bored.  

Heated situations multiple choice

Question 1 / 4

The projector will not connect to the laptop and no one can use their powerpoint. What do you do?

Select ONE answer

  1. 1. Panic and cancel the event

  2. 2. Apologise to the speakers and ask them to speak from their notes, offering a print out of their presentation as an aide

  3. 3. Delay the event while you find a technician and explain to the audience

Question 2 / 4

There is a traffic jam on the way to the event and your keynote speaker will not be able to attend. What do you do?

Select ONE answer

  1. 1. Ask your favourite speaker to fill time

  2. 2. Ask a few of the speakers whether they would be happy to take part in a more formal panel session

Question 3 / 4

There is a lovely but very chatty attendee at your workshop. They are dominating the conversation and you are struggling to get input from other participants. Do you...

Select ONE answer

  1. 1. Let them talk, at least someone is!

  2. 2. Ask them to be quiet

  3. 3. Suggest the participant summarises their point of view and then actively ask others for their opinion

Question 4 / 4

You are running a discussion after a large lunch. The topic is interesting but nobody is very forthcoming with questions. Do you...

Select ONE answer

  1. 1. Have a few specific questions ready to ask the speaker

  2. 2. Have a few closed questions ready to ask the audience to get them engaged

  3. 3. Have some specific questions for other audience members to engage them in discussion

  4. 4. All of the above

You've completed the quiz.