Master the Q&A: step-by-step

kid raising his hand for a question

Most presentations have a question and answer period after the presentation or periodically during a presentation.  It is important not to lose your audience.  By taking pauses and surveying if there are any questions, you can further engage your audience. Sometimes you will carry out a presentation and no one will have any ideas or questions for the presenters; however, in case it is the opposite, and you are bombarded with questions, you have to know how to handle them and respond professionally.

Before your presentation, determine how you would like people to ask questions.  Some presenters invite the audience to interrupt them at any point that a question may arise by raising a hand. Another method is to ask the audience to write down their question and wait until a question and answer period begins.  This would require providing pen and paper to the audience members.   However you decide to carry out your question and answer period, make sure you communicate to the audience at the beginning of the presentation HOW you would like the question and answer periods carried out.

Preparation

While preparing the presentation, brainstorm about possible questions that might arise from audience members and think about a couple answers.  Your audience might ask completely different questions than you expect, but it is good practice and you might be able to find some points in your presentation that might need to be clarified.

Repeat the question

Once you start the Q&A session, make sure you completely devote your attention to the person posing a question. Listen to the whole question and make sure you understand the question fully before starting.  The next step is to repeat the question.  Repeating the question is important for three reasons.   This is a tool to make sure you heard the question correctly, to make sure the audience also heard the question correctly, and finally, this allows you additional time to contemplate how you will answer the question.

Take your time

After repeating the question, be sure to thank the person for asking the question. When you answer the question, be honest and answer to the best of your ability.  Do not try to improvise too much because if you say incorrect statements with confidence, then you will lose credibility when someone in the audience knows the real facts.  If you do not have an answer, admit to the audience member that you do not know the answer and promise to research the answer and get back to them at a later time.  Make sure you actually follow up with that person by phone or email as soon as you find an answer.

Follow up

When you answer a question, you can follow up with a question asking if you gave the audience members an answer as they expected.   If they say “yes” you can continue with other questions, but if they were unsatisfied with your answer, this allows you another chance for them to clarify the type of response they are looking for.

 

 

Main image courtesy of clipart.co

 

 

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Erica Martin

Business Developer at Beekast

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