Q&A’s are the perfect opportunity for welcoming observations and clarifying people’s confusion about a certain idea. This opens the floor for deeper audience involvement, although a tough question could sneak through and ruin a stellar performance.
Here are tips to handle your next Q&A session like a presentation expert:
Take Questions Only at the End
Take audience questions like feedback. They help tune up future presentations. However, taking queries during a structured speech distracts you, ruins your flow, and steers you off-track.
The main part of the speech is not the right time to field questions. If audience members attempt to sidetrack you while speaking, inform them politely that there will be time allotted at the end to address their concerns.
It’s important to avoid coming across as avoiding the question altogether. At the same time, you need to take control of your own presentation to deliver effectively and efficiently.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Objectives
The Q&A session is a part of your presentation – and should still follow your goals. Set objectives to keep your overall speech concise and effective.
Avoid getting distracted or taken off topic. If you’re asked a question that might seem loosely connected, answer it in a way that always draws it back to your topic.
But never refuse questions, even those that seem difficult or out of your scope of research. Every question is an opportunity to make your message even clearer. In the face of an intimidating question, be honest with the audience, but say that you’ll get back to them once you’ve found the answer.
Keep Yourself Calm and Composed
Even if you’re legitimately taken aback by a hard question, never let it show. Letting your negative emotions show in the midst of a presentation makes you look unprepared and unprofessional, reducing your credibility.
People easily pick up on signs of nervousness such as stammering, fidgeting, shaking, and unnecessary vocal interjections (your uh’s um’s and er’s). Stage jitters can also get your adrenaline pumping, having the awkward side-effect of speeding up your speaking pace.
Taking a deep breath calms those nerves, and gives you a brief chance to quickly internalize and properly respond to the question. This short pause will make your answer more natural and articulate, as well as your speaking more relaxed and well-paced.
Answering questions is an important responsibility as a speaker. No matter how perfect your performance might have been, your listeners will always have additional questions. Address these questions in a way that makes you more effective and knowledgeable.
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“Responding to Questions Effectively.” University of Leicester. Accessed July 16, 2015. http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/ld/resources/presentations/questions