Questions About Questions
Questions About Questions – part 1
Some of these questions might swirl around in your head as you prepare, or even contemplate, a presentation.
- What if the audience asks me questions?
- Is it best to ask them to hold their questions, or to take them as they come?
- Don’t I risk getting my presentation highjacked if I allow questions?
- How do I respond if I don’t know an answer? Or if I just can’t reveal an answer?
- I hear that I should ask my audience questions. Is that true? How do I do that?
- Can’t I just not allow questions?
Ok, so I do hope that you know that last one is not an option! Although it’s tempting to tip the scale of control all in your favour by simply telling the whole time, rather than taking questions, you need to understand that this choice will put the engagement of your audience into the Tank!!
Now, you know for sure that you have to entertain questions. But, what’s the best way? It does depend on the purpose of your presentation, so consider that as you make your decision.
What I offer you today is part 1 of a process for taking questions, should you choose to do so. Part 2 will come in the next post.
There are a few scenarios where questions pop up.
1. Something you’ve said has sparked a question in the mind of an audience member. They want to ask it right away!
When they do so, you realize that had they been a touch more patient, they would have had the answer. It’s tempting to reply with the typical line: “I’ll get to that in just a bit.” Please resist that!! Here’s why. If I have this question in my head, and then I ask it, and I don’t get an answer, this question stays in my head until I hear my answer. Now, I’m not listening to anything you say except to check if it’s the answer to my question.
I’m just waiting, with my question swirling around in my head. Here’s a suggestion for dealing with the question, keeping to your planned presentation, and keeping this audience member engaged. It sounds like this: “Jane, that’s a great question, and as a matter of fact, I’ll be talking about the 3 points that deal with that issue later in the presentation. For now, the short answer is that xyz is the most important part of this strategy. Are you ok to wait a bit until we cover this in more detail?” This works every time!!
You have a satisfied audience member (knows the short version of the answer), who feels good about herself (she asked a good and relevant question), and who is remaining engaged with your whole presentation!!