How to tackle questions during your presentation

Most speakers panic when asked questions and distastefully try their level best to avoid them. Unfortunately these tactics are often seen through by the audience and the speaker’s credibility is scrutinised and seen as an incapable presenter.

These are obvious tactics used by speakers who don’t want to answer your questions.
  • When a question is asked replying ‘all questions at the end’ and hoping it is forgotten by them
  • Saying ‘in a second’ or ‘I’ll get to that’ every time a question is asked. It exasperates the audience.
  • Avoiding raised hands by backing the audience and proceeding to read off the screen. (This also creates the impression that you are unprepared)
  • Refusing to make eye contact with the audience and hope anyone who has their hand raised will tire out and put it down.
  • Speaking hastily and fast to ensure no one has time to think of questions between your paragraphs of information.

However the audience only wants to gain a better understanding of the presentation. By not answering their questions you are denying them of information which is supposed to be shared. It reflects negatively on the speaker and indicates them of being disrespectful.

Here’s how to get accustomed to answering questions.
  • Anticipate questions beforehand while rehearsing your presentation.
  • Listen closely to the question. Do not struggle to give a fast response. Contemplate and consider what the audience member is actually asking before going off on an unrelated tangent.
  • By not rushing and momentarily stopping, somebody in the audience may answer their question for them – it may be a follow up question that needs to be answered instead.
  • Take a moment to craft your response. This way you will not fumble or stammer while answering a question
  • Do not repeat the question- unless everyone has not heard it. Repeat in your mind before stating the answer.
  • When answering questions don’t lose focus and be specific. Often, speakers misunderstand the question and divert their information from the main point or offer more information that is not required.
  • Address your entire audience when giving an answer. This ensures no repetition plus they also feel more involved.
  • Make sure the questioner has understood the answer and if not cover the aspects which have been skipped or misinterpreted.
  • If one person keeps asking questions – answer them patiently and in short. Look around to see if there are other questions from audience members. If they keep asking and interrupting you could ask them to take notes and see you individually after the session is over.
  • If you don’t have an answer- it’s ok! do not fumble or avoid the question, be honest and state you do not. Praise the individual for thinking up something that hadn’t occurred to you- Ask the audience for their opinion, build the question or let the audience know you will find out later and inform them accordingly.