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Making great presentations: Responding to audience questions
The key to successful question-and-answer periods is to actually know your topic and expect questions from the audience. One of the most frustrating things about presenting is having to eliminate so much vital information (both personal and research-based) from your speech because of time constraints.
- Besides knowing your topic, expect several questions that you think your audience may ask and prepare one or two visual aids to use when answering these questions.
- Listen attentively to each question asked.
- If appropriate, repeat the question before answering it so that everyone can hear it and keep track of what is going on. Rephrase any confusing or negative questions in a clear and positive way.
- Think a moment before answering each question. If you don’t know the answer, say so, and refer the questioner to someone in the audience who does know. Or, tell the person that it’s a good question and that you will find the answer and let that person know in the next meeting.
- Do not allow one person to dominate the forum period.
- If you think a question is irrelevant or will take too long to answer, thank the person for the question and mention that you will talk with that individual personally about it after the period.
- Don’t try to fake your way through a response.
- Don’t argue or get angry or defensive while answering questions. What you say during the question-and-answer period will influence the audience’s overall judgment of your credibility and your speech.
- If appropriate, actively encourage listeners to participate.
- If you expect a hostile audience, avoid a question-and-answer period in any way possible. If not, mention in your introduction that there will be a short question-and-answer period at the end of your speech and ask the audience to write out questions during the speech. After your initial conclusion, collect the questions, select three or four good ones, and answer them – ignoring the less desirable ones.
- Watch your time, and end the period with a final conclusion that refocuses audience attention and puts a pleasing closure on your speech.
- Preparing to Present
- Nailing Your Presentations
- Making great presentations: Responding to audience questions
- Improve Presentation Skills Part Two
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