You’ve finished your presentation to your Executive Committee, or to your potential client, or to your national professional association. But not quite. You will now answer a few questions.

Stop! You now know not to do this!

Our last blog, How to Avoid a Q/A Mutiny, teaches you to say, “BEFORE I conclude, I have time to take three questions.”

You still have Q/A, but now it’s more structured. You’ll take three questions – that’s it.

Here are seven tips on answering these questions, while staying engaged and engaging with your entire group.

  • Repeat the question. Why? 1) You might be recorded and the recording will not pick up the questioner’s voice. 2) This gives you a few seconds to formulate your response. 3) Sometimes there are people in the room that didn’t hear the question. 4) Finally, if the question is stated in a somewhat negative manner/tone, you can repeat the question in a more positive way.
  • Maintain eye contact with the entire group. This is not a dialogue. You are still giving a presentation. Look at everyone. NOTE: When we do workshops and practice this skill set, our attendees find this to be the hardest thing to accomplish! You want to look just at the questioner. DON’T DO THIS! Stay engaged with the whole room.
  • Get Q & A started by asking yourself a question, if you get a pregnant silence (no one asks a question). Say, “A question I’m often asked is, ‘Do you have to use PowerPoint all the time?’”
  • Remain in control of the session. Don’t let a questioner go on and on. (Sometimes people need to hear themselves talk… image eye rolling emoji here.) Say, “Let’s talk about that at break.” or “Let’s put that discussion on hold. I will get back to you.” While saying this, move away from the questioner and practice good eye contact with the rest of the room.
  • Maintain positive body language and voice. Even if you become frustrated with the questioner or question itself, remain calm and neutral in voice and body language. In other words, don’t cross your arms and start taking steps towards the back of the stage/room.
  • Be concise. Don’t over-answer. Please.
  • Be honest. If you don’t know the info, tell the questioner you don’t know the answer and that you will respond within 24 hours with the info. Then do this.

Stay tuned for our next blog on how to prepare for difficult questions and awkward Q/A moments.

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Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker

 

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