Monday, March 23, 2009

Presentation Skills - Answering questions

Watch how skilled presenters answer questions

"I can't really comment on that , but what I can say is this.... "

Have you ever noticed how experienced presenters can effortlessly glide from the question to the answer?

It's like watching a bird land on a skinny branch. Something appearing complicated and threatening made to look effortless.

What experienced presenters do is utilise a variety of techniques to make the complex seem simple. You can try them.

These include:

Be clear on what you want to say prior to be asked questions. Use transitions to get you out of any tight spot. "I'd love to comment on that, but in fact what I really want to stress is this..."


"I can't totally agree with that comment but what I can say is this....."

Allow time to let the question land (say 2 seconds) . Accept the question non verbally (head nodding, smiling) and then verbally.

"Thanks for that question Julie, it's something that often comes up when I present on this topic"

Repeat or rephrase the question if need be to allow you time to gather your thoughts.

Answer the question, use someone else in the room to answer it or defer the answer depending on the circumstances.

Above all else , stay calm and relaxed. You only have to look at a presenter to tell if they know their stuff.

Keep your answers relatively brief and prepare for the types of questions you could receive and some potential answers prior to any presentation you give.

Oh, one final thought. If you don't know the answer, mention that you need to look into that and will come back to them. It isn't a crime not to know everything about a topic.

Check out this article for some more tips on presenting and how to persuade an audience.


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