I recently did a presentation myself; I presented to our sales team who has the same reputation as your co-workers.
I found what worked for me was to lay out the presentation into 3 steps; a brief introduction, demonstration and then transition into questions. When giving an introduction people will naturally allow the speaker to have the floor, and by structuring that introduction in the right way you can manipulate the entire presentation - including the questions.
Keep the introduction short, short as possible. I used a slideshow and it only had 4 slides and 40 words. The slideshow shouldn't be the star, either; all the slideshow is meant to do is serve as a mental indicator that you aren't to be interrupted.
Some points the introduction should follow;
- The introduction should not explain everything. It will simply lay out the points that will be explained.
- Make the bullet points the focus of questions you'll want. Don't go into detail on your points either - just give the minimum information needed to comprehend the points.
- Be brief, fast and concise. Keep it under 4-5 minutes. This gives you enough time to set up, but doesn't drag on so long that the peanut gallery begins chirping.
- Introduce your introduction as... An introduction! Don't specifically say "no speaking", instead say something like "I'm excited to give a very brief introduction on something great, and I can't wait to show you...". By saying "no speaking" people get uneasy that a slog might be ahead - so just let them know you intend to be brief.
While counter-intuitive holding back information keeps it digestible, and when you do get questions later you'll find they'll closely follow the bullet points. Just because you put a bullet-point on a presentation saying you'll cover X doesn't mean it has to be scripted.
This actually manipulates the questions into the presentation; if you know questions are coming - make it the questions you want. Then you'll be prepared and in control during the demonstration.
People expect demonstrations to take longer, and whether you want them or not questions WILL eventually come: so what you want to do is cover the main points in the demonstration very quickly so by the time people begin butting in with their inquiries you've already hit the marks you've aimed for. Keep this step under 3 minutes, and treat it like the introduction.
This isn't the time for detail yet. This is just showing your introduction again, but live.
If you can, have the areas of your demonstration ready in advance. Don't explain, just show, and keep any description down to sound-bytes. If you can, write a 'micro-narrative' which people will mentally follow, such as the path a user might take though a system: "This is the online store, simple, clean. The shopping cart, and here's the checkout page."
Don't rush this part though; even though you're moving quickly, you still need to keep it digestible. The main risk here is having someone in the room ask "can you go back?", which will kill all momentum and kick you into the main questions phase prematurely.
If you have particularly impatient audience members who ask questions, take the question but try to use it as a lead-in for the next part of the demo. If I were showing a shopping cart and my next stop was the checkout here's how I'd manage the following;
- "This is our shopping cart."
- "How do people get to it?"
- "It's always available from the shopping cart icon [here], or you can get to it from our checkout page."
- [proceed to shopping cart]
Try to have less than 4 targets you want to 'hit' during the presentation, and if you must add shortcuts that let you skip anything in the middle. Really widdle it down to what's most important to show. This also cuts down the number of targets you need to clear before 'forcing' the presentation forward if people ask questions or want to go back. If people are slowing you down on target 2 and you have 8 more things to show you won't make it. But if you're on target 2 and you're already halfway through it becomes much more manageable.
The Question Phase:
At this point, let the demonstration step back and take a more natural tone. Re-visit the earliest part of the demonstration, and intentionally slow down and begin re-treading what you've just gone over but leave massive openings for questions. The goal now is to smoothly transition from "demonstration" to "live Q&A".
If all goes well you've managed to fit an introduction and your main demonstration in under 7-8 minutes. Now you've probably wanted to go into waaay more detail on just about everything, and here's where the magic happens:
People will have questions! BUT! NOT! ANNOYING! QUESTIONS! If you structured your points well, you'll find people are asking questions to all the points you wanted to hit anyway. This will both be interactive, and you'll have almost scripted your audience in advance. You'll also look incredibly well prepared as you're literally continuing your initial presentation, but in a responsive manner.
Because you've covered the broad-brush stuff people won't ask nitpicky questions either; you'll find the questions people ask tend to be just one level of detail higher than what you've shown. If you go into super-detail people will ask super-detailed questions. If you keep it basic, people will ask the moderate questions in line with the points you wanted to hit.
In the end if there's other things you wanted to hit that weren't asked, you can always drop any last-second pointers as the presentation wraps up, after the questions have died down.
When I used this format I was working with a group known to interrupt and de-rail presentations. I also couldn't handle a huge number of questions because the product I was presenting (a website) was completely broken and unfinished. This is compounded by the fact that if they saw how horribly unfinished it was we risked them losing interest and not selling it. Imagine presenting an online shopping cart... But there was no cart, no product pages, and only one "working" category.
That's where I was at.
By keeping back most of the detail the staff wound up focusing on the points I wanted to cover, and I was shocked that nobody realised they had never actually seen any real content. In the end they were surprisingly glued to the presentation.