How to Handle Questions Confidently
How do you top off a successful presentation? You need to ensure your audience goes away not only feeling informed but impressed and won over. The end of your presentation gives audience members a window to engage with you and ask questions. For you, this is an opportunity to restate key messages, provide greater detail where necessary and most importantly make lasting impressions.
However, as we give THEM control, questions at the end are also where the wheels can fall off your presentation! Handling questions and objections well is an essential skill for those making winning proposals, pitching their service or responding effectively to interrogative questioning in a range of business activities.
Once you reach the Q&A section of your presentation, there are some straightforward steps to maintain composure and handle questions efficiently and masterfully:
When a question lands, the first thing to do is thank the audience member asking because thanking generates positive emotions which help you to build rapport. If you are threatened by tough questions or objections, thanking can placate the questioner and keep other audience members on your side. Empirical science agrees: gratitude is a basis of power.
Next, ensure that you fully understand what the audience member has asked. In order to do this, you need to clarify the question. The most effective way of clarifying in a Q&A session is to paraphrase what you were asked because the audience member will have confidence in you and you can answer the question correctly. Besides that, you have more time to consider your response.
In a small room with 10 or so members this step may not be necessary, but in a conference space with an audience of 200, most people will not have heard the question. Clearly re-state it so the whole audience understands the context for the answer you will provide.
Now it’s time to answer the question. Answer as clearly and concisely as possible. If it requires too much time, or you would need to provide data that you don’t have to hand, informing the questioner that you will get back to them later will help you stay on track. However, its essential to confirm the questioner is happy with this.
A problem that some of the most experienced presenters have is focusing only on the questioner when giving an answer because the rest of your audience will lose interest. Therefore, make eye contact with all audience members to keep them engaged and involved.
Before moving on to the next question, ensure the answer you have provided satisfies the questioner by confirming with them. Moving on too quickly could give the impression you are concealing something and frustrate audience members who want to follow up.
When you get to the Q&A session in your business presentation, these five steps – Thank, Clarify, Amplify, Answer and Confirm – can help you to stay composed, keep momentum going and perform masterfully.
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