Best Practices For The Question-And-Answer Session After A Presentation Include 9 Tips for Handling Public Speaking Questions

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9 Tips for Handling Public Speaking Questions

How you handle questions from an audience can often be the

deciding factor as to how your presentation is received. If

you’re pitching for business, then it’s absolutely vital to

handle questions well.

1. Be prepared for questions – When you write your

presentation, think about what you’re likely to be asked and

what your answer is going to be. Maybe you won’t want to

answer a particular question there and then, so think about

what you’ll say to satisfy the questioner.

2. Make it clear at the start – You may decide to take

questions as you go or at the end of your presentation.

Whatever you decide, make it clear at the start and don’t

change your mind. I would suggest questions at the end in a

short presentation; if you take questions as you go, then

your timing will get knocked out.

And always remember, an audience won’t forgive you for

taking half an hour when you were only scheduled to speak

for fifteen minutes.

3. Never finish with questions – Far better to ask for

questions five or ten minutes before the end, deal with the

questions and then summarise for a strong finish. Too many

presentations finish on questions and the whole thing goes a

bit flat – particularly if you don’t get any.

4. Listen – When asked a question, listen and look like your

listening. It may be something you’ve heard a million times

before. Treat the questioner with respect and don’t

trivialise their point.

5. Thank the questioner – It’s only polite, it shows respect

and it gives you a bit more time to consider your answer.

6. Repeat the essence of the question – Some people may not

have heard the question so your answer may not make any

sense to them. It can also be irritating for them not to

hear the question. Again, it gives you more time to think of

the answer and it makes you look so clever and in control.

7. Answer to everyone – Don’t fall into the trap of only

answering the questioner. If they happen to be near the

front then you could end up having a conversation with them

and exclude everyone else.

8. Keep it simple – Many speakers, when it comes to

questions, have become more relaxed and the fact that

someone is interested enough to ask them a question, leads

them to go on too long with the answer – DON’T.

9. Don’t bluff or bluster – If you don’t know the answer to

a question, say so and find out. Suggest to the questioner

that you’ll ‘phone them or come and see them with the

answer. It can even be a good way to make further contact

after the presentation.

As we all know, it’s possible that you may not be asked any

questions and you then have that awkward silence.

People may be thinking about what you’ve just said and may

need more time to ask. They may also be a bit shy and may

take a few minutes to speak out. Why not have a question of

your own prepared and say something like. “You may be asking

yourself………?”

If you still fail to get any questions then go straight into

your summary and closing statement.

Handling a question and answer session well, demonstrates

your professionalism and reflects on your message.

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