Follow these ten tips to master the questions during your presentation.
If the topic is interesting the audience will have questions. They might have some burning questions that need to be answered before they buy your product, service or message.
When you handle their questions with authority you appear more confident, credible and competent. This is the test of your knowledge on the topic and your commitment to the message. The way you handle the questions can make the difference between a successful presentation and a waste of time.
State the Rules for the Questions
1. Announce when and how you will take questions and how individuals will be recognized to speak. Point out the microphones they should use. State the rules clearly before you start taking questions.
Be Prepared for the Questions
2. Prepare how you will answer questions – especially the tough questions. Imagine yourself looking confident when they hit you with that tough question – the question that is intended to skewer you to the wall. Instead you smile and calmly respond with a positive answer because you prepared. Craft and rehearse the answers to these difficult questions before the presentation.
Control the Questions
3. Maintain control of the questioning. Follow the rules that you stated. Formally recognize the questioner before they speak and limit the number of questions. Allow only one person to speak at a time.
Include Everyone in the Discussion
4. When listening to the question, look at the questioner while slowly moving away from that person so the whole group feels included in the discussion. Paraphrase the question for the group. Then deliver your answer to the group. Beware of answering only to the questioner.
Start the Questions
5. Kick start the question period, by posing your own question. Say “A question I am often asked is, …” Then answer your ‘question’. Because you knew the question was coming, you prepared and delivered a strong answer. This starts the question period on a positive note and helps to prime the pump for more questions from the audience.
When You Don’t Know
6. If you don’t know the answer it’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that question but give me your card and I will get back to you.” Beware! You can only do this once or twice. Anymore and you will lose credibility.
Ask the Experts
7. If you can’t answer a question but believe that someone in the audience may know ask, “I know there are experts in the room, how would you answer this question?” Only do this if you know there are experts in your audience. This is one reason to bring experts from your team to important presentations.
8. When you get the person who strongly disagrees with you and refuses to shut up, respond, “Thank you for your opinion, I know there are different schools of thought on this issue.” Or “I can’t speak to your experience. I am telling you what has worked for me.”
9. Avoid repeating, “Thank you that’s a good question.” after every question. Some of the questions might not be good. If you set the pattern of using that phrase the audience will see through your insincerity.
How to End
10. Don’t end your presentation with a question period. Too many presentations end on questions and the end to the question period is a weak phrase “Oh, no more questions.” “Okay, that’s all” “We’re out of time?”
Instead, after the questions, finish your presentation with a closing statement that will resonate with the audience and reinforce your message.
Bonus tip: Plant the question you most want to hear.
Before the program begins, ask someone sitting near the back to ‘pose’ the question on your signal. This is an effective way to address a sensitive topic or that issue that is “the elephant in the room”
© George Torok coaches executives to deliver million dollar presentations. He trains professionals, managers and sales teams to deliver Superior Presentations.
Contact George Torok to arrange private coaching or group training on communication and presentation skills.