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The Dos and Don’ts of Answering Questions During a Presentation

March 14, 2023 / Blog

Answering questions during your presentation reinforces your message, engages your audience, and demonstrates your expertise. However, not all presenters handle questions equally well, and poor answers can derail even the best presentations.

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Let’s explore the dos and don’ts of answering questions during a presentation, with practical tips and advice to help you navigate this crucial aspect of public speaking.

Dos of Answering Questions

To effectively answer questions during a presentation, it’s crucial to follow these dos:

Listen carefully and be attentive

Pay attention to the questioner and avoid distractions. Being attentive shows you respect your audience and value their input. Moreover, it helps you stay focused and ensure that you are providing relevant and accurate information.

Clarify the question if necessary

If you’re unsure what the questioner is asking, ask for clarification to ensure you answer the right question. By doing so, you avoid any misunderstandings and ensure you are answering the right question. Also, it demonstrates you are actively engaging with the audience and are interested in their feedback.

Repeat or summarize the question

To guarantee everyone in the audience understands the question, it is a good idea to repeat or summarize it. This technique assures clarity and grants you additional time to formulate your answer. Furthermore, it serves to address the questioner’s concerns directly and effectively.

Answer the question briefly and directly

When answering questions, keep your response brief and to the point. Avoid rambling or going off-topic, as this can confuse or bore the audience. Instead, focus on answering the question as clearly and concisely as possible. 

Provide examples if possible

Providing examples is useful when answering questions during a presentation. Examples can help illustrate your point and make it easier for the audience to understand. Moreover, they can help engage the audience, making the presentation more memorable.

Thank the questioner for their input

Thanking the questioner for their input is a great way to show appreciation for their engagement. It also encourages others to participate and engage with the presentation. By thanking the questioner, you respect their input and reinforce your commitment to delivering a quality presentation.

Don’ts of Answering Questions

On the other hand, there are also some don’ts when it comes to answering questions during a presentation:

Ignore or dismiss the question

Even if the question seems irrelevant or difficult, you should show respect by addressing it. Ignoring a question can come across as rude or dismissive, damaging your credibility and relationship with the audience.

Give irrelevant or incorrect answers

Providing incorrect information can undermine the credibility of the presentation, leading to a loss of trust from the audience. If you’re stumped, it’s better to admit you don’t know the answer than to provide incorrect information.

Talk too much or stray off topic

Talking too much or deviating from the topic is a common mistake when answering questions during a presentation. Keep the answer brief and to the point, avoiding tangents that can bore or confuse the audience.

Staying on topic and providing a concise answer can help maintain the audience’s interest and keep them engaged throughout the presentation.

Become too defensive or confrontational

Sometimes, a question may be challenging or critical, causing you to become defensive or contentious. However, it’s crucial to stay calm and composed, even in difficult situations.

Responding with a defensive or confrontational attitude can create tension between the presenter and the audience, leading to a negative experience for everyone involved.

Forget to maintain eye contact and engage the audience

Remember to make eye contact and actively involve the audience during your presentation. Keeping the audience engaged and demonstrating a genuine interest in their questions and opinions can establish a positive connection with them.

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Answering questions during a presentation can be nerve-wracking, but with the right approach, it can be an opportunity to engage with your audience and reinforce your message. By following the dos and don’ts in this blog, you can answer questions confidently, concisely, and with maximum impact.