Newsletter January 05
Dealing with questions from the audience
So, you have arranged to give a presentation, and feel you may get questions from the audience.
What strategies are there to deal with this?
Your best bet is to be prepared:
1. Know your topic thoroughly. This will help you feel more confident about taking questions.
Think through all the possible questions people could ask, and work out your reply.
Give the presentation to colleagues or friends and get them to ask you questions – the more challenging, the better.
If you don’t know the answers, find out!
2. Decide if you want to take questions during your presentation or at the end … and leave time for them!
Yes, if you have a 30 minute presentation, it’s tempting to prepare material that will fill the entire 30 minutes so people don’t have a chance to pick your brain, but there are occasions when it’s useful to leave a time for questions
On the day
1. Tell the audience when you will take questions, or let your introducer tell them
2. If a question isn’t clear, clarify it to make sure you understand what you are being asked. This also gives you time to prepare your answer
3. If someone asks a question that the rest of the audience may not have heard, repeat it, for the benefit of others
4. If you don’t know the answer (and don’t feel that you have to know all the answers. This is an information–rich world we live in. You can’t know everything):
Don’t bluff - it doesn’t work in your favour
Say that you will find out the answer for them, and ask them to give you their contact details afterwards. (Note – do find the answer and let them know)
OR Call on, for example, another panel member to comment on it
OR Open the question to discussion to the audience
5. If someone asks several questions in one, begin by saying that you feel there are a number of questions being asked, and if they would clarify the parts. Then deal with the questions one at a time
1. You may also like to look at the July 2002 newsletter on Impromptu speaking below
2. And the DITTY service we offer (a free email impromptu speaking practise service) which can hone your impromptu speaking skills. Click here for details