As in TV programmes like the Apprentice or Dragons den the performance or execution of the project is important but often what sways the judges or the voters at home is the way the contestants answer questions after the task. So it is in selling beauty contests.
it is often at the question and answer session that an earlier 'church mouse' panellist will ask the crucial probing questions.
In these beauty shows time is short. you will not be allowed to poach time from your competitors, so it is better to telegraph from the outset that time has been set aside for questions at the end of your presentation.
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Panellists should feel free to ask questions during your presentation, but you can decide whether to answer them then and there or postpone to the end at question time.
Don't forget to take a note of any postponed questions. The act of writing them down shows serious interest and ensures you won't forget to repeat and answer the deferred question.
Watch out particularly during the inquest period for the following:-
The disguised objection - " Your fee is a little steep isn't it?". this needs to be handled with care. Show appreciation for the point of view, but don't agree with it. Don't get defensive about it since most questions of this kind are searching for clarification. Answer briefly.
The trip or test question - This is probably being asked to test your knowledge of the situation. Don't bluff your way out. Refer it to your partner (an expert) or promise to find out and get back soon as possible before the panel's final decision.
The Clever Cloggs person question - This is often used by members of your audience who wish to show off and display their knowledge to their colleagues. Commented them in front of their panel ( it is what they are after anyhow) . Defer the detailed answer for after the meeting. don't try to put them down. You way win an argument but not the panel's agreement to appoint you.
The Challenge question - Should you make a point in your presentation which steps on a panel's on a panel member's toes and are challenged, don't stand up to the challenge. Retreat and acquiesce: " These trends are only general to the market at this stage".
The Defensive question - Some of the recommendations of your presentation could be seen as a threat by certain members of your panel. You are nearly always proposing a change of some sort. This can prevent defensive questions. At first ask the questioner to expand on his concern. if a difficulty still remains, involve members of the panel and suggest a compromise withe panel's agreement. This is an opportunity to use a conditional close- " If we were to..."
Having finished with the questions and given your thanks, do try to close.