by Fred Miller
Knowing when to take and answer questions during presentations is a key to success.
When done correctly, having your audience ask questions can be an important part of your presentation.
Q&A can be a check on how clearly your presentation was understood and an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.
When to take questions
During your opening, tell your audience when you’ll be taking questions. Doing so lets them know not to interrupt your talk because you have told them when you’ll have Q&A.
- Consider taking questions after each section, only on that section.
- Important: Take questions before you close your presentation.
- The Law of Primacy and Recency says that your audience best remembers the first and last things you say and do. That’s why you want a strong Opening and a stronger Closing.
How to ask for questions
- Don’t ask, “Do you have any questions?”
- Better to raise your hand high and say, “In my opening, I said I’d take questions after each section. This is that time. What questions do you have for me?”
- “Prime the pump” by saying, “I’m going to ask the first question. One of the things I’m always asked is….”
How to answer questions
- Repeat and paraphrase the question so your entire audience knows what is being asked. Example: “To be sure I understand your question, you want to know….”
- Start answering the question by looking directly at the person who asked it. Finish your thought, then shift your gaze to someone else in another part of your audience. Repeat the process until finished.
If you don’t know the answer to a question
- Don’t throw the question out to your audience. If you do, you lose control, and you can’t be sure the person answering is giving the correct answer.
- It’s best to reply, “I’m sorry. I’m drawing a blank right now. If I don’t think of the answer before we conclude, let’s get together after the presentation and we’ll figure it out.”
Follow these suggestions for when to take and how to answer questions, and I guarantee your next presentation will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!
Fred Miller (fred@NoSweatPublicSpeaking.com) is a Speaker, International Coach and Author. Businesses and individuals hire him to improve their public speaking and presentaiton skills.