How are you handling difficult questions in your presentations?
So you’ve spent hours preparing your slides, practicing in front of the mirror, and learning the material you are presenting inside and out. The big presentation comes and you breeze through it confidently and calmly. You are about to finish up and just quickly ask the audience if there are any questions.
“Any questions? Ok, if not then…”
The difficult questions then arrive, one after another. Questions that you are not prepared for, don’t have the answers to, are not completely clear as to what they mean, etc. It has happened to us of all in one form or another, and is perfectly normal to presenters of all experience levels. What helps separate good presenters from “not so good” presenters is the ability in handling difficult questions professionally and effectively. Here are some quick tips to help.
When handling difficult questions…
“Thank you for your question.”
“That is a really good question and I am glad you asked it.”
Clarify that you understand the question if necessary (or to buy some time to come up with a good answer).
“So, if I understand you correctly, you are asking me if we…….”
“Just to make sure I give you the correct answer, are you saying that if……”
Admit that you don’t know the answer and turn it over to the audience to help.
“I’m afraid that isn’t my area of expertise, but I am sure someone else here may know the answer to that.”
“Can anyone help answer that question?”
Admit that someone you work with would be better suited to answer that, and you will consult with them and get back to the person.
“Unfortunately I don’t have the answer for that now, but I have a colleague that can answer that question. Can we meet after the presentation and exchange contact details? I will then ask him and get you the answer right away.”
You need more information on the question, it is a private question, or you don’t have the time to answer it in front of the whole audience. Ask to meet later.
“I think it would be better if I got a little more information from you to help answer that question. Can we meet after the presentation at lunch? I would be happy to get you more information then.”
Question: “Do you have the latest forecast sales figures for the 3rd quarter?”
Answer: “Thanks for your question. Just to make sure I give you the correct answer, are you asking for the forecast sales figures for the German location or the total figures worldwide? (Clarification given by person who asked question) Unfortunately I don’t have the answer for that now, but I have a colleague who can answer that question. Can we meet after the presentation and exchange contact details? I will then ask him and get you the answer right away. (Person agrees) Great, thanks for the question. Any other questions?”
Keeping these things in mind when handling difficult questions in presentations will allow you to seem more prepared and make your presentation go more smoothly. Want more info on how to be a better presenter? Click here.