Handling Questions and Answers in Your Professional Speaking Career

Handling questions in your presentation can be a scary time for professional speakers. The fear that someone will ask a question that they can’t answer makes this sections one of the most dreaded sections of the speech. This fear is so real that presenters will often cut this area short or avoid it all together to get past this section. Here are some tips that will help you to handle this section effectively.

1. Be a great listener. After spending the entire time talking, now is your chance to respond and interact with your audience. Listen to your audience’s questions completely before starting to answer. If you don’t, you may respond inappropriately not answering what the person was really asking.

2. Give yourself time to think. Listen to the entire question. Repeat the question to give you some time to respond. You can also add filler phrases like “that’s a good question”, “that’s a popular question” or “that’s an interesting question”.

3. Acknowledge your audience member for asking the question. People appreciate acknowledgement and starts to create a personal bond between you and the audience. They start to feel appreciated for participation in your presentation and they warm up to your speech.

4. Answer the question. Stay on track and be honest. If you do not know the answer at the time, let them you that you will find out and get back to them. This is an especially great opportunity if your goal is to develop a long term relationship with your audience. Just remember to get back to them as you say you would.

5. Create clean transitions between questions by creating “bridges” to the next question. Ask your audience another question such as “Does that answer your question?” Stay on the question until it has been answered appropriately.

Here are some tips to interact better with your audience during the question and answer period.

1. Ask your audience member to stand when they have a question. One of the primary reasons for doing this is to help the rest of the room hear the question more clearly as well. Additionally, you are also able to establish a line of sight eye connection with the person asking the question.

2. Ask your audience to write their questions down on paper. They can either submit this to you or read from their paper at a designated time.

3. If your audience member is shy and does not want to ask their question, create alternative times that you will be available. You’re goal is to help them understand the points you are trying to make.

4. Have a paper and pencil for yourself to write down questions that you can’t answer. Jot the question down as well as contact information of the person asking the question so you can get back to them.

The question and answer period is a great time to interact with your audience. Many people and instructors like will also say that they learn from this time more than any other section in the presentation. You will also be able to see what exactly your audience has picked up during your presentation. Don’t avoid this section any longer!

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