Presentations: The 4Rs

The 4Rs is a model for handling questions, consisting of four stages—Reflect, Respect, Respond and Review. Presenters don’t have to use each of the 4 steps every time they answer a question, and there is also room to play with the order of the Rs (indeed, slavishly following the steps can sound robotic).  The model provides structure for the nervous and encourages rapport-building for the confident.  Above all, it moves the presenter’s mindset from “answer the question” towards “use the opportunity.”

4 Rs in presentations


Reflecting what you have heard serves a number of purposes.  Firstly you can check that you’ve understood the question correctly.  Secondly you can make sure that everyone else in the audience has heard the question you are about to answer.  By reflecting you can demonstrate that you have listened to the question, and you can reframe the question if you feel it will help provide the answer the questioner is seeking.  Finally, reflecting is particularly helpful when the question is either unexpected or hostile and you need to buy time for yourself

Typical language:  So what you’re asking is … ,  You’d like to know …  If I can just check I’ve understood you …


Showing respect helps to build rapport, provided it comes across in a genuine manner. This is where you show that you actually do want to be asked questions. It also encourages other, more reticent members of the audience to step forward and ask questions.

Typical language:  That’s a good question …, I’m happy you asked that…, That’s an interesting point you’ve raised.


Of course, this is where the answer comes.

Typical language:  Our experience is …, I’m convinced that … , We’ve found …


Finally, check if your answer is clear and complete.  If time is an issue, suggest a fuller discussion after the presentation.

Typical language:  Does that answer your question …?, Has that helped to explain things better ?


You have any suggestions to add?  Please write them in the comments area below if so. Also, check out Target Training’s seminars on audience-center presentations for further help by clicking here.