“What if they ask me something I don’t know?”
“What if I give a stupid answer?”
The “What ifs” of answering questions in a presentation can shake the confidence of many presenters.
But not you.
You can develop the skill of answering questions more professionally and with greater confidence so that you are seen as leader with good communication skills by preparing for questions, increasing audience engagement, and responding intelligently.
- Prepare for Questions
- Write down a few questions that you anticipate you might be asked. Rehearse your answers. One of the questions can be used to get the ball rolling in a Q&A session, especially if no one has a question right away.
- Reinforce key messages. It can be effective to end your answer with a relevant key point from your presentation. “And that’s why we need to [state a point from your presentation].”
- Increase Audience Engagement
- Ask presumptively. Instead of asking, “Are there any questions?” Ask the more presumptive prompt, “What questions do you have about (Topic)?” And then pause, look around and wait several seconds. If you know the audience fairly well, you can call on people by name.
- Encourage questions with your body language. Lean in or take a step toward the audience, smile, and ask, “What questions do you have . . . ?” while extending one arm toward the audience, palm up.
- Answer your own questions. If no one asks a question, try saying something like, “Many people have asked me . . . [a typical question]?” And then, answer your own question, followed by, “What other questions do you have about [related topic to the question you just answered]?”
- Respond Intelligently
Listen. Pause. Repeat. Respond.
- Listen to the question, without interrupting the questioner
- Pause a few beats. Take a breath. You will look thoughtful.
- Repeat the question, paraphrasing if needed, to both clarify your understanding of the question, and to allow the audience to hear the question in a large meeting room.
- Respond. Choose your response:
a. Answer: Give a short, direct answer. Get to the point.
Try the PREP method
Point: state your point
Reason: give a reason
Example: provide an example or evidence
Point: restate your point
Learn more about the PREP method in this 2-minute video: https://youtu.be/FcJtMZ-gcm0
b. Clarify: Question the question, for clarification.
c. Delegate: Pass the question on to someone else who can answer it, or provide greater detail.
d. Defer: Put off answering the question if it is beyond the scope of the presentation, one you will answer later in the presentation, one that you don’t have an immediate answer for, or one that requires more detail than you want to get into right then (“Let me talk to you later”).
Alternatives to “I don’t know”
- “I don’t know, but I’ll find out and let you know. However, I do have some thoughts around that question . . .” (And then give some of your related thoughts).
- “I don’t have enough information on that yet. I’ll need to get back with you.”
- “That’s an interesting idea—I hadn’t thought of that.”
Guest Blog post by Diane Windingland, Virtual Speech Coach
Author of of 100 Tips & Tricks to Appear Confident in Presentations
- Posted by Regina
- On October 19, 2020
- 0 Comments