How to Handle Question and Answer Session in Presentation
My favorite part of any presentation is usually Q&A, the question and answer portion of the program. As either an audience member or as a speaker, I like Q&A because I get to hear different voices and perspectives. Done well, the Q&A period is an interactive and lively part of the program. To keep your Q&A session energetic and enlightening, keep two planning tips in mind:
- if you are planning a Q&A, let your audience know this near the very beginning of your presentation. For many small boardroom or classroom- style presentations, you might tell your audience to just jump in and ask questions at any time. For more formal presentations your audience is often better served when you tell them you’ll answer their questions near the end. By announcing that you’ll have Q&A near the end, you almost ensure that the audience will think of great questions to ask you.
- Secondly, hold your Q&A session near the end, not at the end.You don’t want to close your presentation with Q&A; instead, tell your audience that you have one final thought to leave them with, but before you do, you will open up the floor for questions, this near the end not at the end approach does two things:
A. Closing Statement
In the unlikely event that no one has any questions you can smoothly go to your closing statement.
B. Last Words Are Yours
This approach lets you take control of the final words. Don’t leave those final words up to the whim of last questioner, the last words that the audience needs to hear is your voice and your message. As audience member starts asking you questions, you will want to keep three in the moment tips in your mind as you answer.
1. Repeat or Reframe
First depending on the room and the size of the audience, you will often want to repeat or reframe the questions out loud. If you are speaking to a larger audience and a person asking a question isn’t using a microphone, repeating the question lets the rest of audience to hear. Also, if the question is awkwardly framed, instead of repeating the question, you can put it into words that the audience might understand a little better.
2. Answer Briefly
Keep your answers very brief. The best Q & A sessions are lively and interactive; you want to engage as many people as you can. Answer a question in a minute or less, if you don’t think you can answer briefly, say so. A better few words can help you, you can acknowledge that the question is complicated and a comprehensive answer might take an hour, instead tell your audience, you will give them the short answer because of shortage of time.
3. Take Control
Keep in mind that every so often, you will a get an audience member that asks you a long incoherent rambling or completely of topic question. Inside my head, I call these people Q & A hags, know this, the rest of the audience wants the Q & A hags to stop taking just as much as you do. If a person can ask a question in under 30 seconds, you need to politely but firmly shut them down. Tell them that you are going to interrupt them, don’t ask if you can interrupt them. Tell them and remind them that time is limited and you need to move on to another question or close the presentation.
Now this may sound harsh or route, but your audience will love you for doing it, and if you truly feel that this approach is to harsh, you can try soften it by adding that you will be available to take their question after the presentation. However, only do this if you actually have time to meet with the person after the presentation.
Q & A is often a vital part of your presentation, if you are planning one, tell you audience right away, when and how you would to take the questions, that way there will be frame of minds to ask great questions, and remember never leave Q & A until the very end, rather make sure it’s near the end so that you can control of your closing words.