A Q&A session should be the last segment of every presentation you make, as it’s a time when doubts can be clarified and issues further explored. It’s also a great opportunity to interact with your public and learn more about their concerns, questions and interests. So, if you’ve mastered the subject you’re presenting and you feel confident, you should always save some minutes for audience questions at the end of the presentation.
Here are some tips on handling a Q & A session:
1. Announce the session: If you’re sure that there will be time for a Q & A at the end of a presentation, tell your audience early on. This way you avoid interruptions; you can even encourage the audience to make note of their questions as you go along, so you can answer them in the end.
2. Repeat the questions: When you’re presenting in large auditoriums, there should be a microphone available for the audience. If there isn’t, repeat each question into your own microphone before answering. Everybody in the room needs to know what question is being answered.
3. Be brief: Make sure you stick to what is asked and give concise answers, especially if a lot of people are waiting their turn. Also, if you take too long in answering a question, you may annoy the audience and compromise the good impression you made throughout the presentation.
1. Be a mediator: In addition to answering audience questions, be a mediator too. If somebody insists on a point, repeats a question or starts to ramble off-topic, explain that you’ll be happy to address that particular question via email.
2. Relax in the face of hard questions: If you don’t understand a question, ask for a rephrasing. If you don’t know the answer (and this can happen), admit it. (Being honest can only help you with an audience.) Once you’ve said you’re not able to answer well at that moment, tell the questioner that you’ll do some research on the topic and get back to the entire audience on it – by email, for example. (Then again, if you think there’s an audience member qualified to answer that particular question, throw it to that person.)
3. End on time: If a lot of people have questions and you’re running out of time, announce a few minutes beforehand that you can take only one or two more questions. (And you should try to close the session with an answer that strengthens your main message.)
So for your next presentation, make sure you save some time for a Q&A, and use these tips. You’re audience will appreciate it.