This post covers:-
Fear at Question time - When to take questions- the TRACTOR system - Dealing with hostile questions - keeping control - questions to your audience
1. OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF QUESTIONS
There is the fear is down to opening yourself to risk. The questions you might be asked are ones that you can't answer and you might therefore lose control of the audience.
Prepare for the questions you are likely to receive in the same way you will have prepared every other aspect of the presentation. One useful way to prepare is to garner the help of colleagues and friends to listen to your presentation and ask them what questions come to their minds.
Is it because you have missed out an important point in your presentation or is it because that particular section was confusing or lacked clarity? Then go back and amend your presentation accordingly.
When dealing with questions asked for this reason, you must clarify the point as briefly as possible.
Tell the person who asks this second kind of question, that whilst it doesn't directly relate to the subject of your presentation you will be glad to speak to them about it after the presentation. It is best to take a note of this so if you deem it appropriate you can seek them out after ward and deal with their query.
With this kind of question, you will have to do what many people find the hardest thing of all - admit that you don't know the answer!
Compliment and thank the person who spoke for asking an excellent question and go on to say that you will find out the answer and come back to them - and make sure that you do.
For smaller business presentations and training sessions, the increased informality means you are more likely to be asked questions during your presentation. In a training session it is important to deal with the questions as they are asked or the learning may never take place. In the smaller business presentations the choice is yours.
If you are new to presentations it may be better to ask the questioner if you can leave the question to the end of the presentation. The danger otherwise is that you will lose your place and the momentum of the presentation.
The third way with smaller groups.
Explain the length of time for your presentation at the start. Say that there is a period at the end set aside for questions but if they have a burning desire to ask please ask. If the question is easy to quickly deal with than answr it. If you need time to think about it - take a note of the question and explain you will come back to it at question time.
This (these questions can then be used by you straightaway when you come to questions to get over that embarrassing pause that can occur after your presentation and you ask " Any Questions"
It is easy to use the breathing space you have been given to think what you are going to say next, but if you do you may fail to understand the question or answer the question you think was asked.
Make notes whilst the questioner is speaking - jot down the main points of their question, and their name so that you can personalise your reply. Before you answer, restate the question; this helps you, and anyone in the audience who didn't fully hear the question.
Try to make your answer as concise as possible; don't feel the need to obtain 100% approval or agreement from every person who asks a question.
Avoid put downs
If a difficult or stupid question is asked it may be tempting to quash the questioner with a funny put down or sarcastic reply.
Professional stand up comedians use this approach as part of their act with hecklers but as a business presenter if you do so, you will risk losing the sympathy of your audience ( quite possibly your prospects) who will tend to support the member of their group who they sense to be under attack.
If on the other hand you appear straight faced and overly formal, the questions are less likely to flow.
3. Answering Questions at a Presentation - a method
Here's a simple but effective process for answering questions in a presentation TRACTOR
T Thank the questioner for their question
R Rephrase or Repeat ( depending on your style) the words of the question but relate them to your audience as a whole. Firstly this helps if some of the audience has not heard the question and secondly it keeps the audience involved and lastly it gives you a little time to think how you might answer the question/
A Answer the question to the best of your ability but again the whole audience.
C Check that you have answered the questioner's question ( this time looking at them) Further expand if they do not feel their query has been answered.
T Thank and compliment them on their question
O Offer additional reading, web links to help further the questioner if appropriate
R Return to the audience for more questions
Avoid nominating an individual before you ask the question, as that can put them under considerable pressure and you are unlikely to get a good answer.
Remember to acknowledge every answer particularly if it seems a silly answer - it is your task to protect the respondent from any ridicule the group may show.