Barry was preparing a controversial presentation to the leaders of his country. In a nutshell, he was advocating that the country take a completely new direction with one of its policies. Though Barry had a few supporters for this daring proposition, he knew the majority regarded his views as radical and unworkable. They were not at all receptive. How could he show them that his new way was better without their jumping to angry conclusions or simply refusing to listen?
What should you do when you know your audience is hostile?
Preparing to face a group that doesn't agree with you is both a challenge and an advantage. The advantage is you know what to expect. You know they're going to try to trip you up, even get loud, angry, or defensive. However, whether or not they agree with you is not your primary concern. Your job is to get your points across in spite of their unwillingness to listen. The challenge is to get them to really hear you.
Knowing that you'll have to defend yourself against both reasonable and unreasonable objections, your mind works harder. Your thinking gets sharper and more focused. Like gearing yourself up for running a horse race, you need to sharpen your skills, get yourself in shape, prepare your game plan and be ready for surprises. You have to set yourself up to win.
Like a jockey's job is to win the race, your job is to win their attention, be heard, get them to put aside the objections they walked in with and think about what you're actually saying. You're a winner when they stop trying to out-talk you and instead start to listen.
It won’t be it easy. They'll do everything they can to intimidate you: ridicule you, put you down, out-shout you, even insinuate you're stupid and unprepared and who the heck do you think you are? Your response? Take it seriously, but not personally. There's a difference.
Take it seriously because their objections should be ones you've prepared for in advance. Part of your speech preparation is to figure out every criticism they could possibly throw at you and have an answer for it.
Always remember, their objections are not personal, even if they sound like they are. They're not objecting to you, they're objecting to what you're saying. The surest way to diminish your winning mindset is to think maybe there is something wrong with you for advocating your position.
Whatever they throw at you, before you react take a moment to breathe and think, "What is the real objection here?" Chances are the hostility is coming from fear: fear of change, fear of new ideas, fear of losing power or authority, fear of being found out, fear of growing older... there are a million of them. Whatever the hostile response, you can remember that the responder has his own agenda. You are just a convenient target for him to vent his own problems on.
Listen carefully to what is being said. Answer the objection, not the person. If you've done your homework, you'll have an answer ready. Keep in mind that you're the jockey in charge of this horse. You're going to win this race. When you keep your goal in mind and never take their hostility personally, you will eventually win their respect, and they will actually start to listen. You will cross the finish line a winner.