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Asking Karen: How to Field Questions During a Presentation

by | Jan 3, 2013

By Sarah Epstein


From time to time, we at Speak for Yourself® go to Karen to ask her advice on an aspect of presentations or business communication skills. This week we ask her about fielding questions.

Karen, at the end of presentations to potential clientele or even executives, the presenter asks if there are any questions.

Q: What would you say are the three biggest mistakes that people make when fielding these questions?

1. Waiting to the END to ask for questions. You should ask for any additional questions, if you have time, BEFORE you conclude. That way you end with power rather than with the audience straggling away from you.

2. Looking just at the questioner. Look at your entire group when answering a question; and that includes when you’re answering questions at a meeting.

3. Talking too long. Be brief.

Q: What should a presenter do if nobody has a question?

A: You can say, “A question I’m often asked is…”  or    just go to your conclusion.

Q: What’s the best way to deal with an inappropriate question?

A: You are in control, don’t forget! You can say, “Let’s put that one in the parking lot – I’ll talk to you at break,” or bridge to what you really want to talk about. Also – use your body language to your advantage. Do not have eye contact with that questioner and move to the other side of the stage to answer another question.

Q: What’s the most graceful way to respond to a question you don’t know the answer to, without losing face with important executives?

A: Be honest. Say, “I don’t have an answer right now. I will get back to you within 24 hours.” And do just that. OR – if you’re on a team pass the baton to someone else who you KNOW has the answer.




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