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How to Handle Questions During a Presentation

The questions at the end of a presentation can be terrifying for many speakers as they can’t be controlled and are hard to prepare for. Questions and Answers (Q&A) sessions shouldn’t be in every presentation you give. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense to include a Q&A. However, when the time’s right and the context calls for it, including a Q&A session in your presentation is a fantastic way to engage your audience and gauge how engaged your audience actually is. Questions form an important part of the presentation for the whole audience as they allow for clarification and consolidation of learning.

In this article, DeckRobot collected some fool-proof tips that you can use to make sure you can handle your Q&A sessions.

Identify possible questions and scope in your preparation

The background work that you undertook whilst planning your presentation is the key to handling questions effectively and understanding what type of audience you'll be facing. When working on your presentation, it is crucial to prepare prompts for questions that are open and straightforward.

Be sure to announce that you are going to answer the questions at the beginning of your presentation, so you don’t have to pull your hair out when people interrupt you in the middle of your thing.

Another approach is to pause for questions after covering a specific topic. This way, you’re making sure your audience gets it. Plus, you’re engaging the people in the room a lot more.

One thing to note. In case you’re presenting your content to a super important (like a CEO, or a high profile client) person (s), do not let them interrupt your presentation with a question. That sort of behavior can throw you off and set up a dangerous precedent where you can be interrupted on a constant basis.

Listen to the whole question

Don’t rush to answer the question immediately. Pause for a few seconds, listen to all parts of the question, and think about the best way to answer.
Sometimes questions can change direction at the last moment because the questioner is thinking on their feet. This can throw you if you have already started to prepare an answer.

However, there can be times when someone is going to throw you a curveball of a question that you will have no answer to. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You can get out of this situation by asking them their contact information for further communication over the question once you have researched it.

Always make eye contact with the questioner

Becoming immediately distracted when someone is asking you a question can make you look as though you don’t really care about the question being asked, and can be quite disrespectful. Things like adjusting the microphone, checking your slides, drinking water … this is a big no-no! It is important to remember that even though you are taking a question from one member of the audience, you are still responsible for the interest of the other audience members. So be sure to maintain eye contact, and give the questioner as well as the whole audience your full attention.

Check-in with the questioner after you have given your response

After you finish your answer it’s important to check-in with the questioner to make sure that you’ve answered the question 100%. You can do this by asking questions like “Does that answer your question?” or “Can I provide you with any more detail?”

However, keep in mind to avoid lengthy responses. Always plan and prepare for your responses in advance. Your unplanned response will be unstructured and rambling, so keep things focused and brief. If you find yourself rambling, ask the questioner to talk to you after your presentation.

The Bottom Line

By following these points, and being thoroughly prepared before your presentation will help to calm your nerves and leave you feeling ready to engage with your audience.