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presentation training Preventing problems p19

INTRODUCTION
Tell them in the introduction how you want to deal with questions – keep them until the end or have them during the presentation?

This will depend on time constraints, degree of formality and purpose.

ANTICIPATE

Likely questions – have back-up information ready.

LISTEN

With full concentration – looking at the questioner.

ACKNOWLEDGE

e.g. “Thank you, that is an important point.”

IF COMPLEX

Jot down key points.

Rephrase to check you have understood – this can also give you time to collect your thoughts.

IS THE QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST?

If it is – answer it with appropriate detail.

If it is not – give a brief answer and maybe add something like:
“… and perhaps we could discuss this further privately.”

IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER

Possibly consider asking the audience e.g.
“Would anyone care to comment on this point?”

Say you haven’t got the information but you will get it and send it to the questioner.

BEWARE – THE DOUBLE EDGED QUESTION
Sometimes this is used to discredit the speaker e.g.

“I know last month’s figures were very poor – so what do you think this month’s will be?”

Deal with the first statement then answer the question.

Do not simply answer the question. This can give the impression you agree with the statement or that you haven’t got a suitable explanation.

AGGRESSIVE/HOSTILE QUESTIONS


• Stay rational.

• Show concern/understanding for the point the questioner is making.

• Try to find something you can agree with in what the questioner has said.

Options
• Perhaps ask the questioner to enlarge (he/she may well weaken his/her own argument in the process).

• Perhaps ask for an example – then you can discuss specifics. This can prevent things getting personal and defuse the situation.

• Perhaps ask a question yourself to clarify (he may well answer his/her own question, expose some common ground on which you can agree or weaken his/her own case).

Usually
• Answer the question rationally explaining your point of view.

• Discuss the issue as specifically as possible. Avoid getting involved in subjective/personal/opinion type aspects.

• Be assertive but not aggressive.

Never
Argue avoid confrontation – as a last resort “agree to disagree”.
Flannel if you don’t know it, admit it.
Put a Questioner down however stupid the question always be courteous – never
be brusque, sarcastic or rude

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