Wait! Don’t cheer as yet! Don’t think that since you don’t know what questions might arise means you don’t need to know how to handle questions and can’t prepare for them! You can and should still prepare and know how to handle questions in presentations because if the audience were to pose a question which you have already prepared for, you will be able to answer it with great confidence. These are some practical tips to help you before the Q&A segment.
How to handle questions in presentations:
Prepare questions.Go through your entire presentation and list down possible questions you think the audience might have about your message. Make your presentation before people whom you trust and get them to tell you what questions they have about your presentation. By now, you should have consolidated a list of many questions right?
Formulate answers.With this list, formulate your answers which address those questions in a coherent and concise manner. The keyword is concise! If your audience is merely asking you what the maximum speed of the car is, please don’t go on and on about how much planning went into ensuring that the car can be driven at X km/hr without having an overheated engine! In formulating, just state key points as your response to a question, then move on to the next question and repeat the process.
On a side note, personally I like to consolidate all the popular questions together and instead of preparing the answers in my Q&A segment, I will incorporate those questions in my main content instead. Why? Simple. If it’s a foreseeable, relevant concern which can be thought of by a few people, then very likely the audience will be asking themselves the same question! So by answering that in the main body, I am demonstrating understanding of their concerns and being able to adequately answer them without them having to ask. Simply put, “I thought about you, I care enough about those questions and I am giving you the solution”.
Sometimes I am attracted to some sales people giving demonstrations on the latest kitchen gadget. As I listen to what they say, I will start to conjure situations where the gadget will fail or will not be helpful. When they start to mention about those same situations and address those concerns (which are in my head) without me asking, it shows that they know when and what situations may cause the gadget to fail and how their product has features in place to combat that problem. Demonstrates high level of understanding and research, doesn’t it? It shows me that you have already anticipated these problems which I may face as a consumer and helped me think of solutions!
While working in Outward Bound, I had to frequently speak with students about the Outward Bound programme they would be attending. One of the components in the programme was kayaking. So what is a very likely question that will pop up? Yes…what happens if I can’t swim? When I talk about the kayaking component then, I would follow-up with an assurance to my audience that everyone would be donning a personal flotation device and they would not need to swim in the sea unless of course if they accidentally capsized their kayak. See? I’d just demonstrated understanding of their concerns and how I had already thought of a solution for them.
Knowing how to handle questions in presentations begin with planning and preparation. It is broken down into 2 basic steps – foresee questions and formulate answers. It may be wise to incorporate likely questions into your main body and answer it there. Shows understanding and credibility factor shoots up and that’s what you want!