In a business presentation, questions from the audience help create a richer outcome through dialogue and discussion. A good presenter should actually foster an environment where questions can be openly asked. I was intrigued to write this post after attending a presentation of a close colleague. He seemed relieved that the audience had no questions for him. It made me wonder if we just fear questions or simply like to avoid them.
Here are some effective tips you can put into place for your next presentation:
1. Set time for questions in your agenda. Don’t do it as an obligation but genuinely keep this time aside and use it. Tell your audience that you would welcome questions.
2. Create a format to manage questions. A best practice is to hand out “stickies” and markers to your audience at the start. This way they can write out all their questions and you can even collect these at the end.
3. Anticipate some questions which may get asked and have answers ready for them. There is nothing like being over-prepared.
4. Take questions with a smile. Remember questions and challenges will help you sharpen your content. Thank the audience and react with poise.
5. Don’t be afraid of questions. You are champion of the content and there is nobody that can answer better than you. Be confident.
6. Remember that your body language says it all. Stand tall, use soft hand gestures, smile and give eye contact.
7. If a question is out of your scope, then be explicit and say so. But, offer a solution. You can ask if anyone in the audience knows or take a note of it and have someone responsible revert back.
8. If you don’t know the answer, then don’t do guesswork. You can write down the question, and promise a reply (in 24 hours?).
9. Don’t loose you cool if there is an aggressive question. Just, take a breath. Rather than creating a scene, offer to take it offline.
10. If there are indeed no questions, then challenge your audience. Ask them what they thought of a particular point or if they agree with your views? This will surely encourage questions.