[8 Steps To A Live Presentation That Sells Series] Article #5 ~ Control The Room

If you’ve followed Steps 1 and 2 in this series, your speaking audience is hanging on your every word, just waiting for what comes next.

What comes next isn’t sexy, but it’s one of the most crucial steps of all.

You have to lay down the rules.

If you don’t, it’s very likely that you’ll lose control of the room.

Since no one really likes rules, refer to them as guidelines. Try saying something like this:

“Here are the guidelines that I have found work best for my 90-minute talk. If we could all follow these things, everything is going to go great. Otherwise, it’s going to take me three hours to get the information out.”

And then you give them your rules, the most important of which is: no questions.

Don’t Take Questions
That’s right. If you’re speaking for the purposes of sales, do NOT allow questions. (This does not apply when you’re teaching a live seminar, teleseminar, or when you’re coaching. Questions are appropriate then.)

When you allow your audience to ask questions, the agenda shifts from yours to that of the person asking the question. You probably, then, won’t have time to complete your presentation, and you’ll most certainly lose sales.

Here are a couple of the other pitfalls of allowing questions:

You don’t know who’s in that room. If somebody has asked you to come in to speak, even if you know the demographics or sociographics of the individuals in the room, you don’t know precisely who is sitting in those seats. And you don’t know what questions they’re going to have.

You could get a real ass in the audience, somebody who would take pleasure in discrediting you and making you look foolish. Then you’ve got a big problem on your hands.

Unhappy customer/unhappy person. You can’t please everyone, so no matter how great your product or service is, there could be someone in the room who wasn’t happy with it, and they may want everyone to know. Or perhaps you say something that triggers someone in the audience. If they don’t take responsibility for their own emotions, they may take out their anger on you.

Unless you’re an experienced speaker, it’s very difficult to come back from situations like those and walk out of that room looking better than when you walked in. The negative impact on your sales can be dramatic.

How to Phrase It
Now, members of your audience will have questions, so you want to be sensitive with your phrasing. Try something like this:

“I want to make sure that you get your questions answered. However, I only have a very short time up here to tell you how you could double your income in the next 90 days. So I’m going to ask that you hold your questions for now. After my talk, I’ll be around in the back of the room, so if you want to ask me questions at that time, please feel free to do so.”

Your audience now understands the reason for the rule, you have their tacit agreement to hold their questions and, most important, you have control of the room.

You can now start to build your foundation for massive back-of-the-room sales. I’ll pick that up next time.


David Neagle, The Million Dollar Income Acceleration Mentor and author of The Millions Within, teaches entrepreneurs and commission-based sales professionals how to quantum leap their current incomes past the 7-figure income level, often in less than 12 months. As a world-class speaker, sales trainer, and success-mindset mentor to some of the globe’s top CEOs, David also privately mentors big decision-makers in their pursuit of quantum success and peace of mind.


  1. Thanks fror the reminder. The last talk I did, I said no questions as there was a lot of material to get through. It didn’t stop them though. I asked one lady to write her questions down so she didn’t forget. Of course she didn’t listen and totally forgot what she wanted to ask. I did another talk and totally ran out of time because they were asking so many questions. One person’s questions lead to someone else asking a questions and so forth. Inevitably, I didn’t finish my talk (I had at least another 15 mins of material) and made no sales. I have done training in how to speak from the stage and controlling the room was one of the most important things explained but I still can’t quite get it right. How does one command the room when nerves take over?

    • This is quite common Valerie when you are learning how to command a room, so take it as an opportunity to learn and grow from it. For me, the best way to get over any nerves was to continually get up in front of people and do my thing. The more you can do that the less the nerves will affect your presentation. As for the question conundrum, that is as simple as setting firm boundaries in the first few minutes of your talk. If someone is still not abiding, pause, bring them back to that boundary, and quickly move on. Own the stage and those in the room will know it. Thanks for the post.