You're pumped. The speech you just gave was received very well. You
really won the audience over. Loud applause is coming from all directions.
But don't start patting yourself on the back yet. The end of your
presentation does not come when you finish speaking. After your summation
you still have another opportunity to face your audience, during the
The question-and-answer period will also have an impact on your audience,
so do not try to escape this crucial time by sitting down or leaving
the podium. This is an opportunity for you to further clarify your
ideas. You don't want to give the audience the impression that you
are relieved that your presentation is over and all you want to do
is leave the platform.
If you are giving a training session or a sales presentation, it probably
makes sense to take questions during your presentation. Don't get
too far ahead of yourself. If someone asks a question that you will
be covering later in your presentation, tell them so. You must also
avoid a lengthy response to a question which may disturb your train
of thought and the audience's ability to concentrate.
How To Handle Hostility
As a presenter, you may find yourself facing a hostile questioner.
Your skill at disarming verbal attacks will reflect on your credibility
with the audience and the impression they have of both you and your
presentation. The following approach works well to diffuse the hostile
- Let them say
whatever they want to say. You listen while they vent.
what they have just said, and how they feel about it, without being
- Ask probing
questions to try to find out what the real issues are.
- Say one of
the following statements:
what your issues are, now let me respond"
"Let's problem solve together to work this out"
"Let's look into this after this presentation has concluded"
By using this approach you have indicated that you value the thoughts
and feelings of the questioner. The audience will respect you, and
you will diffuse the hostility at the same time.
When your presentation is over, and the questions have stopped, or
time is up, it's time to conclude. Don't make the mistake of giving
a simple "thank you" and leaving the podium. Return to the
central theme, revert to your closing statement, or talk about next
steps. Your closing should not be lengthy, but it should wrap things
Here are my rules to guide you through the process of a successful
Q & A.
- Early in your
presentation, tell the audience when you will be taking questions;
you may ask them to write questions down to save for the end; to
ask throughout your presentation, or at specific breaking points
during the presentation.
- Before answering
questions, listen carefully and paraphrase the question before you
- Look at the
questioner while paraphrasing or include the question as part of
the answer, but look at the entire audience when answering
- Call on experts
in the audience when appropriate, but take back control after they
- Set a time
limit to control hostile questioners
- Tell those
with multiple questions that aren't relevant to the entire group
that you will respond either at the end of the session or later
to them in writing or by telephone
- Don't let a
stage hog take control
- Don't tell
a lie. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so and offer
to get the information for the questioner
- End the question-and-answer
period with a strong closing remark
Brody Communications Ltd. 1999