When Your Audience Disagrees
With Thanks To …
I would like to thank everybody who attended my presentation on CSS through edublogs on 19 June 2009, for without them this post would not have been written.
Setting the Scene
I was running an online session using Elluminate when one of the participants expressed a view that was the complete opposite of something that I had just said. This post explores my own reaction to that event, and looks at alternative ways of dealing with it.
Ways of Reacting
My Immediate Reaction
My immediate reaction was one of surprise, as I had read an article from the relevant authority on the point expressed only a few days earlier. However, as a presenter, I know that I can get things wrong due to any one of a number of causes. I was also aware that I wanted to keep the audience “on my side”, that the participant was expressing what he believed to be true, and that I wanted to keep the presentation moving forward.
I thanked the participant for informing me of information that was new to me, and moved on.
A Follow-up Action
As a presenter, it is my duty to ensure that statements that I make are accurate. So I needed to check the participant’s statement, which I did the following day. As it turns out, my initial statement was correct (which was a personal relief for me), and it raises the point that the participant may have been referring to a very similar technology which is only one number away in its representation, and has all the features that he spoke of. Also, being human, the participant may have simply made a mistake.
Other Ways of Handling the Situation
There are other ways of dealing with this sort of situation. For example:
- Ask: cite your source, and ask the participant for further details
- Polity disagree: “I don’t think so”, and cite your source
- Disagree impolitely: “Sorry, you’re wrong”, and cite your source
The first course can put undue pressure on the participant (in my view), and can break the flow that exists between the presenter and the other participants. The other two courses of action can escalate into a row, sometimes very quickly, and is even more distracting to the other participants.
None of these courses of action appeal to me.
Every presenter will have their own way of reacting to and dealing with this sort of situation. For me, for the moment, I think I handled it acceptably.