How to Handle Audience Questions

Most presenters dread the question and answer part of a presentation primarily because it lessens their control of the situation. Leading up to the event, they undertake meticulous planning to make certain that their presentation conveys their intended message. But, for those of you who have taken part in Q&A sessions before; you’ll know all-too-well that they are notoriously uncertain.

But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. After all, the main goal of having a Q&A is for your audience to clarify the points you have discussed, which allows them to leave your presentation enlightened. Further to this, they also give you another chance to showcase your expertise of the subject.

So with this in mind, let’s look at a couple of tips you can use to ensure that your next Q&A session not just enhances your presentation, but is a highlight for the audience.

Anticipate All Questions That You May Be Asked Prior to Your Presentation Day

Preparation beats mere intelligence most of the time. This goes to say that before you step foot to the stage or to the front of the room, try to have asked yourself all the questions that you think could possibly be asked. You can also seek the help of your family, friends, or colleagues by presenting to them and allowing them to ask questions to you. This will give you an idea about the types of questions that you may be asked on the day of your presentation, giving you ample time to think ahead of how to best answer such questions.

Set The Cue

It’s a good idea to prompt the start of the Question & Answer part of your presentation. You must let your audience know at the beginning of your presentation that all questions will only be entertained at the end of it and ask them politely to jot down their questions as you go along so they won’t forget it. This way, you are not prematurely being asked questions that you already planned on answering later on in your presentation. Also, it will ensure you keep your momentum throughout the talk.

Listen and Understand Each Question

This might seem basic, but make sure that you truly understand the question before giving an answer. If you don’t understand, simply ask them to clarify any ambiguous points. It is much better to clarify a question than to give the audience a wrong or misleading answer. At best, they’ll have to ask you again, but at worst, they may think you’re trying to avoid providing an answer.

Be Straightforward in Answering the Questions

Avoid re-doing your entire presentation or ending up having a mini-presentation when answering a question. Be as straightforward as you can and give out brief but concise answers. This way, you can entertain more questions from your audience. Just be sure that the one who asked the question is satisfied with your answer before proceeding to the next one.

Involve and Thank your Audience

Each time somebody from the audience asks a question, acknowledge their participation. Additionally, even though you’re responding to a particular person, make sure that you involve the rest of your audience by looking at all of them as you speak.