Handling Resistance to HR Presentations


If you work in human resources, and you have to make a presentation to employees or managers, odds are you are giving them information that will lead to a change, a change in how they are thinking or what they are doing.

But getting them to change isn’t always easy because, no surprise, most of us don’t like change.  But knowing that there will be resistance to your presentation can actually help you: If you know about it, you can prepare for it.

The key is to put yourself in the place of your audience members, to see things from their point of view. This will help you better understand the doubts and fears they may be having, so you can address those doubts in your talk.

Resistance can take one of several forms, according to communications expert Nancy Duarte.

One kind of resistance is a conceptual resistance, where people will come up with reasons and arguments against a position. To deal with this, you need to do research, looking up articles or blogs that cover other points of view and that detail the arguments. This will help you prepare for questions and counterarguments you may encounter. But, in addition, it will also help you to see your topic from different points of view, and give you a better, more thorough understanding of it.

Another kind of resistance is emotional. This is not so much a reasoned opposition, as one that is rooted in your audience members’ feelings, rooted in their prejudices or biases. This type of opposition needs to be approached in a different way. Reasoning doesn’t always work here. So, again, you need to put yourself in your audience’s place and think about what you are saying and whether it will trigger any emotional reactions. Then, you should consider ways that you might mitigate that reaction. This could be done, again, by recognizing people’s feelings or emotions about a subject, acknowledging it and treating it as something legitimate.

Another kind of resistance might result simply from the fact that what you are asking is physically difficult to do, or hard to do for reasons relating to space and time constraints. Again, it is important to acknowledge this in the presentation, and show your audience that you are aware of the sacrifices they are making.

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