Many or even exceptionally confident and capable presenters would say that they, in fact, have fear of question-answer sessions in a presentation. They look out for techniques to dodge difficult questions. However, it should not be like that.
It is an art to finish a presentation and deal with questions that is regarded as a talent that anybody can master. Perhaps the most essential thing to know is that, if the audience is asking questions, even argumentative ones it is not meant to tease your brain up but as they really need the answer.
Tips to DodgeTricky Questions and Answer the Questions Confidently
#1 Remaining in Control of Questions
People mostly have fear of the question session since they dread losing control. Some initial presentation preparation and thought process could evade this risk. This could also be avoided by keeping in mind that presentation is an exchange of information. It is equally as for you to listen to what people need to be familiar with as for the audience to listen to you.
Although, when the presentation starts getting distracted by an exciting question, say something like: “I think we have been going a little bit out of topic here. Let’s put it aside and we could chat on it later. Come talk to me at the end of the session to exchange contact details.”
“I really want to get back with a presentation, or else I perhaps would not have time to end, but we’ll talk about this later.”
#2 Inform audience at the beginning of the presentation that when will you accept their questions
When you start your presentation, make it obvious to the audience when you would like to answer the questions – as you move along or when the presentation finishes. Some presenters like questions better to be raised up as they get in mind during the presentation. The significance of this presentation method is that any kind of confusion could be solved immediately. Though there is a risk of the speaker getting distracted with questions or that the asked question may be covered in the remaining slides of the presentation.
#3 Categorize Questions
If you prefer dealing with the questions as they are raised, then you are disturbed about the consequences, there is a stress-free way to deal with it. In introduction of your presentation enlighten that three kinds of question are there:
- The type that tries to find the interpretation of the thing that was just said – you would deal with them quickly;
- The type that inquires a question related to something which you have planned to tell later – you would answer them later; and
- The type which is best dealt with when offline as all audience members are not interested in it or it might be out of the topic of the presentation. You would create a note of this question in the slide notes and address it later to the questioner. When a category 2 or 3 questions is requested, you can say it like:
“It’s a Category 2 question; hence I’ll not answer it at the present and cover that later. If you think I have not covered it properly prompt me later and I’ll cover it.”
Other presenters like it better when questions are asked at the end of the presentation. If you choose this method, make sure you have set apart enough time for questions however also limit the time available. The amount of time would usually depend upon the kind of presentation you are presenting but commonly 10 minutes of questioning time is enough. The main benefit of this method is if you speak too fast, you would have an extended questioning session. It is a big reason to speak slowly and cautiously. Ensure that the audience knows everything when you go.
The questioning session should not be the closing point of the presentation. As you finish the answering session, ensure that your last words are uttered with a strong declaration of your key message. You could thank the audience for questioning and then summarize the main points once again, which your presentation was intended to convey.
An Introduction to Questioning Sessions
The question session has the main rule which is to give respect to your audience which you would like if it was shown to you. Answer the questions of your audience openly and honestly. If they raised a question, it is for the reason that they want to get the answer. It is not likely to happen that someone would ask a question just to tease you, though this also happens.
If the asked question is offensive, directly answer it. Do not be rude to the questioner or indicate that you are distressed. Never compromise yourself however sustain your viewpoint and do not lose temper. This approach could be hard to reserve but the main thing is being self-confident.
Dealing with Questions
Pay attention cautiously to questions being asked and when the audience is big, repeat it to make sure every person in the audience has listened. If you have doubt that you did not understand it properly, rephrase it to the questioner and check if you had it right. Answer to the point and briefly. If you don’t have the reply, then say it and request to find it out. Then make sure to follow it up.
To be capable of replying, you would require the name and email address of the questioner, so ensure to talk to them earlier than you or they leave. “I don’t know” is a satisfactory response to some of the very hard questions and is more tolerable than tripping through a reply or making up. “I don’t know however I’ll find it out as soon as possible and let you know” is even more appreciated. Calm down and don’t feel like you should be having answers for everything. If you do not have an answer it is good to not try to behave like you have one and be honest. Trust is built up in a very long time however it takes a few moments to lose and the audience would always identify when you are being fake.
An Alternative Approach to deal with Questions: Audience Involvement
If you are talking to an up-to-date audience, such as a group which is a professional one and a general question is asked to which you don’t have an answer, ask the audience if anyone will want to reply. You perhaps have a world professional on that topic, being seated there who will be pleased to share their knowledge with you. If you already observed someone in specific, you could say:
“I observed Professor Z in the hall, so I wonder if he would share his experience with us to help me enlighten you people with this topic”
People mostly are fine with that tactic, specifically if they are familiar with the topic more than you are. It would mean that the hall has a better comeback from the audience. Yes, it is right that you are present in front though you don’t have answers for everything.