How to effectively answer questions in a presentation.

SkyeTeam executive development

How to effectively answer questions during a presentation can be a sensitive issue.  Here are some tips on how to handle the different types if questions you may encounter:

1. The one you hoped to avoid – well to be honest, if there is a question that you were expecting but hoped no one would ask then I can only assume that you are somewhat naive! My advice, either meet it head on during your presentation or else make sure you do have a response ready.
2. The one that you didn’t expect – similar to the above, if you have researched and practiced your presentation (with a trial audience) hopefully you will not encounter this one very often.  If you do, and know the answer, then all well and good.  If you do get it and don’t know the answer DO NOT AD LIB – you risk your credibility and undoing the tremendous job you have done with your presentation.  I would suggest something like

“that is an excellent question…what do the rest of you think?” (or something along these lines)

3. The long winded but doesn’t quite get to the point question.  These can be challenging due to their lengthy nature and multiple parts.  When you repeat the question back paraphrase the question and break it into

“if I heard you correctly you wanted to know about (a), (b) and (c)”

then make sure you answer all three parts. Alternatively if time is short ask the questioner to prioritise – which part would they like answered now and that you will follow up with them later on the other elements.

4. The missed the point completely question – be polite (however tempted you may be otherwise).  Thank the questioner and maybe suggest that you follow up afterwards or this is better answered in the next session / class /presentation (if that is the case)

5. The one where your mind immediately goes blank – it happens to the best of us.  The word that was on the tip of our tongue suddenly disappears down a black hole.  Admit it, better to acknowledge your mind has gone blank than to wing it, let the questioner know you will come back to them as soon as your memory re engages.

When SkyeTeam is working with a leader to prepare for an important presentation, whether to a client or at an industry event, we spend focused time practicing. We practice the delivery of the message, including stage presence and the handling of questions. We will role play being the challenging audience member asking the awkard questions, interrupting, pressing the point.  Practice really will make a huge difference.  Call us, let us show you how!