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How to run a meeting and command the room

public speaking training

When you run a meeting or a presentation, people expect you to take charge and lead.

If you don’t lead, your meetings will get out of control. This means people will speak out whenever they want, come in and out whenever they wish and argue with you at every point you make. You will not be able to get through your agenda, and your audience will not receive your message. It’s a lose/lose situation.

I learned how to professionally and elegantly take control of my training rooms after doing one year of teaching 3rd graders at an after-school program. I wanted to help the kids, and as a result I learned a lot about myself.

From the first day the kids were loud and out of control. I knew that if I did not establish order in the class, the kids were not going to learn anything. The out-of-control class was not the kid’s problem, and it was mine.

I also noticed that one of my colleagues was able to control the room and the kids. I decided to put my ego aside and learn from her. I started picking her brain for tips on classroom management, which helped me to improve my ability to direct and teach.

What I learned from her has stayed with me to this day, and I apply it when I teach adults.

Here are some tips on how to run a meeting take control of the room if it gets loud and out of control.

Take control of the stage

First impressions count when you take the stage. An experiment done by Jane Willis from Princeton University reveals that after looking at someone’s face, it only takes one-tenth of a second for your brain to form an impression of that stranger’s character.

The next time you stand in front of a group, make eye contact, smile, and demonstrate confidence before you even say a word. That will get you off to a good start.

Take control of the presentation

When you present, you have to be clear about your rules. In the Magnetic Messaging Bootcamp, we teach participants to lay out their rules for the presentation in the introduction. If you don’t tell people your rules, then they will follow their own, and that will lead to chaos.

Always say how you will run the show as part of your introduction. If you want your presentation to be interactive, then say something like this “I would like the presentation to be interactive. Anytime you have a question; please ask it.” If you want no participation in your presentation then say something like this: “ I have 30 minutes with you and a lot of information to cover, please hold your questions to the end because we have some time allocated to Q&A.”

This will set the boundaries for your presentation and give you the control you need to lead the group.

Take control of your mind

The moment things begin to go out of control, avoid thinking “oh, shoot, this is going to be a disaster.” Instead, redirect your internal dialog to a more productive conversation like “ok, this is interesting, I am a good speaker and will get this back on track in a minute.”

This keeps your mind under control and prevents your emotions from getting out of control.

Take control of the breaks

During breaks, people start talking and socializing, checking email and working on other things. Your job is to bring people back to the presentation and back into control.

Here is my favorite method for taking back the reigns t while staying  professional;

  1. Clap your hands three times
  2. Say “Can I have your attention.”
  3. Repeat until you get most of your audience’s attention
  4. Thank them for their attention: Say “Thank you for your attention.”
  5. Tie back to the presentation: Say something like this “ Let’s get back to ______.”

This will get the presentation back into control after the breaks. It’s important to be both friendly and assertive when you do this.


When you run a meeting or a presentation, people expect you to take charge and lead so don’t disappoint them. If you don’t take charge, your audience will take control, and no one will win.

Peter Khoury

Peter Khoury: Founder @ MagneticSpeaking X-Pharmaceutical Engineer, turned author, national speaker and executive presentation coach.

In addition to Public Speaking training, Peter is a regular speaker on the topics of Negotiations, Conflict Management and Leadership. He is the author of the book “Self-Leadership Guide.