Handling Q&As After Your Presentation
In business and in life, your ability to present your ideas in a clear, organized and purposeful way may be the greatest tool you will ever have. You may have noticed that people who get what they want are not always the most knowledgeable, experienced or even the smartest. Often the one who gets the promotion, a big raise, a bank loan, a scholarship or the best deal on a new car is the one who can present his or her request persuasively.
But what about after the presentation? If you’ve ever dealt with a question-and-answer session, then you know it takes a whole different preparation and skill set to succeed. Audience questions are where the presentation meets the real world, where the mood can shift from passive to active, and where you can capture attention … or lose it.
1. Anticipate. By developing and preparing a topic, you should be able to predict and answer 70 to 75 percent of the questions.
2. Prepare. Answer on paper all the predictable questions that might be asked. Then try to answer some out-of-the-ordinary, tangential questions that may pop up. Who knows, maybe someone will ask and you’ll come away looking great.
3. Rehearse. Try out the answers on a recorder or in front of another disinterested person. See how they sound. Make sure they are polished and credible.
4. Listen. Actively listen to each question. Listen to the words, tone and body language being used by the questioner and others in attendance.
5. Repeat. Restate the question before answering. This allows the audience to hear the question and gives you a few more seconds for your brain to formulate a good answer.
6. Involve. Turn the question into a question. Let the audience solve some of the mysteries. Chances are they already have an answer or have experienced a similar situation and would enjoy sharing an opinion.
How to Respond Even When You Don’t Know the Answer
Turn the question back to the audience in a lion’s den. Example: “That’s a great question. I wonder who else has run into this situation … anyone?” After a show of hands, have the knowledgeable members share their experiences. Your job is to clarify and repeat for the rest of the audience.
Thank the person for a good question and admit that you don’t know the answer but that you will find out.
Hint: Write down the questions as you go. That way you can remember what to answer while showing interest toward those asking the questions.
Some questions are loaded and some are not content-oriented. If you are getting too many distractions, write the questions on sticky notes and post them on a prepared poster.