A number of my friends, who are new in the profession of public speaking, complain of interruptions created by various forms of audience distractions. From my experience I know that audience distractions do not necessarily related to boring delivery or unattractive presentations. While seasoned speakers know how to deal with these distractions, the novices often get demoralized by the bad manners of a part of the audience. Coming late or leaving early, attending to mobile phones, letting their disagreement to be known rather loudly, speaking to the person beside are some of the menaces that every public speaker probably is familiar with. If you feel depressed because you experience such hazards frequently, do not blame it on your ability. Treat it as one of the professional hazard and consult the tips below to learn how you can ignore these distractions and make the others glued to charms of your rhetoric.
There are instances where side talking may prove beneficial for stopping further distractions. It is common of the late arrivers who are briefed by his fellow participant on what he has missed so far. These kinds of conversation do not last long. Rather they help the latecomers to catch up with the on goings and that reduces the chances of his asking you questions in case he is not following. These types of conversations are best to be ignored, as they will stop automatically.
But some conversations are spurred up between two or more people which tend to continue for longer, causing real problem for not only you but for those who are paying attention. Here you can apply this trick: just keep on staring at the direction, those people are sitting as you continue to talk. The other people will follow your glance and also start to stare at them too and soon the nuisance makers will realize that the whole auditorium is staring at them and they will have no other option than to discontinue with their gossiping.
Sometimes you can clearly get to understand the disagreement of some audience members from their body languages. They become somehow restless, wagging their heads, looking at the back or at the other corners to see if others also disagree. You cannot afford to ignore these symptoms for long, as the person will soon let his disagreement to be known loudly and the flow of the speech will be disrupted. In these situations, your trick would be to clearly acknowledge that many of the participants may not agree with your view, and they will be given an opportunity to express their displeasure only at the end of the presentation. This will give the hints to the person in question that it is too early to talk aloud.
When distraction in any form like ringing of mobile phone or a constant gossiping goes on a particular corner of the room, you walk on the stage in the opposite direction. The audiences eyes will also follow your movement at that corner and thus their attention will also be hooked on here where you are talking, not on the source of the distractions.
As with the latecomers, they create a real problem. Providing some extra empty chairs at the back can solve this problem. Never sacrifice your schedule for the sake of this latecomers; it is a question of your professional repute. But you have to think of other plan if a key person of the organization is getting late. In this situation what you should do is start the presentation at its designated time. Make the introduction longer with adding an extra couple of anecdotes or flaring your language to make the introductory story longer. And come to the main points of the presentation latter when he finally arrives, so that he does not miss on the crucial points of your topic.
Finally, as you get more and more experienced you will come across many audience members who have a tendency to heckle the speaker out of nothing. Just control them with the words like this, All individuals differ in their opinion and I respect their views. I expect the same attitude from them. Now resume the flow of your speech and you will find the rest of the audience is with you paying more attention to what you are saying. Do not let these hecklers state their views in the participatory session or do not ask them any question so that they once again try to distract you.