The Question and Answer session is part of many presentations. Both the questions and responses are generated by you, as the presenter, and your audience about the subject given. At certain points in your presentation, you ask your audience some questions to check for comprehension of the subject or to elicit ideas from them. In the same way, your audience asks questions for clarification and supplemental information. At all times, you need to anticipate any type of questions from them and be ready with your responses.
The kinds of questions and the frequency of asking the questions measure the effectiveness of the presentation for many experienced speakers. This article will teach us insights and tips in handling a Question and Answer session during a presentation. This interaction process between you and your audience will help you elaborate more on the areas of the topic that spark an interest to your audience.
When to Entertain Questions
There are two common instances when presenters usually entertain questions from the listeners. You may acknowledge questions during the presentation proper or during the conclusion part as you are wrapping up the talk.
At the onset of your presentation, set expectation with your audience as to when you will entertain questions. Deciding when to have the Q and A session in your presentation will depend on different factors. Let us identify three important elements to aid you in your decision.
First, consider the nature of the topic. Ask yourself the purpose or objective of the presentation. If the goal is simply to inform or educate, then questions may be reserved until the talk is brought to a close. However, if the subject is a “need to know”, then consider acknowledging questions during the presentation proper.
Another factor is the amount of time needed to deliver the presentation. If you are only given a limited time to conduct it, say 30 minutes to an hour, know that there is not much time to answer questions as you go along with your talk. Then again, set proper expectations at the start of your presentation. Let them know that questions will be answered after the talk.
Lastly, consider the size of your audience. Normally, for a large and inquisitive group, there will be quite a bunch of questions. Just make sure you know how to take control of the traffic and redirect the focus back to your subject.
Guidelines in Asking Questions to Your Audience
From time to time, you may ask your audience some questions for comprehension check or if you wish to gather more ideas. So, before asking your questions, know the reason for asking.
Always allow at least a few seconds before your audience can respond. Check for understanding. If they seem confused, try rephrasing your question. Refrain from calling a name first to answer the question before you give the question. Instead, wait for someone who will volunteer to answer. If no one does, then start calling out a name.
Evenly distribute your questions to everyone in the group and always address them by their first names. Do not embarrass or humiliate a person’s answer if it did not hit the question. Acknowledge the idea and move on by eliciting for more answers.
Getting Yourself Ready for the Questions
When it is your turn to be asked, how do you handle it? As a professional, you should anticipate and be ready to respond to any type of question regarding the topic. During the preparation stage, you might want to list down some possible questions they will ask. During the presentation proper, always make sure that you understand the question. For a large audience, you might want to repeat the question for everyone to hear it.
Your answers should be brief but direct, if possible. In cases wherein you do not know the answer, tell them that you will set that as a “parking” question and will give them the answer once you have it.
Or, you may ask your audience for a little help. But do so not in a pleading manner. Always check for a hint of satisfaction on their faces after giving your response. And never forget to thank the person for raising the question.