“More trouble is caused in the world by indiscreet answers than by indiscreet questions” – Sydney Harris.
Listening to politicians, sports people and executives being interviewed on the radio this morning, it seems that no-one wants to answer a question. In the everyday business world life isn’t always so easy. If you’re giving a presentation and you allow time for questions and answers, it’s always good to have thought through some approaches.
Here’s some presentation question tips from the archive …
Prepare for questions:
- Anticipate the most likely questions.
- Prepare suitable answers – including visual aids or specific examples specially for answering questions.
Repeat the question back
- Ensures everyone has heard it.
- Confirm wording of question – especially if it is complex or multiple.
- Provides thinking time to formulate answer.
Maintain your style
- A change in your demeanour indicates that you are ‘off balance’ and may encourage a negative response.
Questions you don’t know the answer to…
- Don’t bluff – admit you don’t.
- Promise to find out the answer.
- Keep your promise.
- Involve the whole audience in your answers, involve them in the problem.
- If your mind goes blank – open question to the rest of the audience giving you thinking time and involving group.
- Don’t get bogged down answering irrelevant questions – offer to discuss it with the individual afterwards. Stay on course, and don’t be led astray.
- Maintain a confident approach to keep control of the session – you can answer the question with another question.
- Break the question down into one you can anser, “did you mean x or y?”
- Make it bigger “actually this affects the whole industry, not just this aspect .
- Focus much tighter “I can’t speak for this entire aspect – let me comment on how it affects our situation …”
- You may need to cut people off if they ramble, be kind but direct, “Forgive me for interrupting …
- Ask for their help “I know this is an emotional subject, but I can help more effectively if your questions are kept on topic” – addressed to all.
- Always acknowledge the question.