Many presentations today
are followed up with a question and answer period. To some people this can be
the most exciting part of the presentation. To others it can be there worst
nightmare. In fact, there are some presenters who purposely avoid the question
and answer period all together. Below I have provided a 5-step approach to handling
questions along with some additional tips to make your next question and answer
session go smoother.
- Listen to the entire
question Listen to the entire question BEFORE you begin to answer any questions.
Too many people start responding to a question before the entire question
is even asked. Not waiting to hear the entire questions can result in you
providing a response, which had nothing to do with the question. Force yourself
to LISTEN to the entire question and make sure you understand the question.
- Pause and allow yourself
time the value the question and listener. REPEAT the question out load so
the entire audience can hear it. It is important that everyone "hear" the
question or the answer you provide may not make sense to some of the people.
By repeating the question, this will allow you some additional time to evaluate
the question and formulate a response.
- Credit The Person for
asking the question. You may say something like, "That was a great question"
or, "Glad you asked that question" or even, "I get asked that question by
many people". One word of caution. If you credit one person with asking a
question, be sure to credit EVERYONE for asking a question. You don't want
people to feel their question was not as important.
- Respond to the Question
honestly and the best you can. If you do NOT know an answer to a question,
do not try to fake it. Be honest, and tell them you do not know but DO promise
to research the answer for them and DO get back to them.
- Bridge to the next question
by asking them a question. "Does that answer your question?", "Is that the
kind of information you were looking for?". This is critical. Once they respond
to you, "YES" you now have permission to go onto the next person. This also
gives them one more opportunity to say, "No" and allow them to clarify their
question more by asking it again.
Additional Tips on Handling
A. Ask people to stand up
when they ask a question. This does two things: (1) It shows you more readily
who is asking the question, and (2) It make it easier for the audience to also
hear the question.
B. Have small sheets of
paper available for people to write down their questions during your presentation.
They may forget what they were going to ask earlier.
C. Allow people to pass
the questios to you if they feel uncomfortable standing up and asking the question
out loud. This gives the person who truly wants to ask a question an option.
D. Always repeat the question
- this does three things: (1) it makes sure you understood the question, (2)
it gives you a chance to value the question and think of an answer, and (3)
it assures the other people iin the audience can hear the question since you
are facing them.
E. Always take time to
think "before" you answer all questions. This allows you time to think, especially
for those difficult questions. Do the same for those questions you readily know
the answer for. Responding too quickly to those questions you are most comfortable
with will only bring attention to those question you do not.
F. Have a pencil and paper
available for you to write down questions you can't answer. You may even elect
someone to record the questions on paper. This way, you can properly follow
up with the person who asked the question you couldn't answer. Be sure to get
their name & phone number or address. Promise to get back to them and DO get
back to them.