Does anyone have any questions?
To some, presenting comes easy. But for the rest of us, it can be nerve wracking, intimidating, and, quite frankly, absolutely terrifying. Even if you have the basics of presenting sorted, there’s many things you can do to push your skills further and transform your presentations from “good” to inspiring, quotable, and impactful.
One of the biggest challenges many presenters face is dealing with questions. You can rehearse and practice your ‘performance’, but you never know what someone is going to ask you. Poor responses to questions can result in confusion, uncertainty, and could even devalue your entire presentation.
Types of questions
The best way of dealing with questions is to understand what type of question it is, and what type of person it’s coming from. These are just a few types of questions you might be faced with:
The irrelevant question will be from someone who isn’t really listening and isn’t particularly interested in what you have to say. Don’t be offended or point out that the question is irrelevant, instead acknowledge the question and bridge back to what you’ve been discussing.
The objection is often head on and can be quite unsettling. The person asking might claim the presentation is pointless or nonsense, don’t let them fluster you. Take a breath and clarify the issue. Provide context and perspective, restate your position and the benefits.
The show off loves to demonstrate their own knowledge, so you’ll need to flatter them and then link back to your main message. Don’t let them take over – because they will try to!
The test question is used to probe your knowledge or experience (it’s most common in pitches). To deal with this kind of question, be honest. Don’t bluff if you can’t answer it – they’ll be able to tell.
Avoid these things…
- Don’t expect everyone to understand or agree with you
- Don’t panic – it will be okay!
- Don’t waffle – your audience will get bored and stop listening
- Don’t lie – they will see straight through it and not trust you or your presentation
- Don’t get angry or upset, particularly when challenged
Try these things…
- Anticipate possible questions – when planning your presentation, spend time thinking about what else someone might want to know
- Pause if necessary – take a moment to breathe and gather your thoughts before responding
- Attempt to understand where someone is coming from if they disagree with you
- Stay calm
- Be honest
- Be helpful
If you’re ready to take your presentation skills to the next level, take a look at our course Impactful presentations: two day masterclass here.