Think back to the last time you were an audience member. What made you want to listen? What enticed you to tune-in and stay connected? Or, conversely, what made you shift your thoughts to elsewhere, check your watch, and wonder “When will this end?”
If you are a presenter, a teacher, or a facilitator of any type, you do not have to change your content, create new homework assignments, add an activity, or infuse technology for this to work. You can make a statement that goes beyond anything your shoes or clothes might communicate. No longer do you have to straddle the line of being compelling and interesting or serious and informative. You can accomplish both. All you have to do is watch what your voice does, and listen to what your body language says.
Almost every audience will have a difficult audience member. It is not what you want to hear, but it is the truth.
This is the person who is cranky for no apparent reason. This is the person who is known by colleagues and coworkers as being difficult and negative 24/7. This is the person who frowns at puppies, rainbows, or sunflowers. And the fact of the matter is you cannot control that person or what he/she says.
All you can do is control your response to him/her, which means you remain cool and calm and ignore the person's attitude for the most part. (Do not ignore the person. Ignore the attitude.) Oftentimes, if you are doing a great job with your presentation and others see that, because colleagues know this person to be something of a trouble-maker, they will address the person for you. And even in an audience where no one knows each other, if you're doing an outstanding job, you will have others who recognize this person is simply being difficult, and you may have a situation where that person gets isolated by the majority.
However, it becomes a real issue for the presenter when the audience or a heckler has some very good points that he/she brings up but for which you have not entirely prepared to address or simply did not anticipate that point would arise.