How to answer questions in a presentation

Today’s twip is:

#prestip: Paraphrase a question to ensure you have understood it and give yourself time to think.

Yesterday the tip was about how to ask questions, today it is the turn of how to answer them.

When you are asked a question from the floor, always wait until the questioner has finished speaking, don’t be tempted to interrupt just because you think you know what the question is going to be.

Give the questioner some respect by waiting until he/she has finished, then paraphrase the question back to the person who asked it. This serves three purposes. First of all it makes sure you have understood the question properly, secondly it ensures everyone else in the audience has heard the question and finally it gives you some time to think of a good answer.

Normally, when you answer a quesion, 25% of your eye contact should be to the questioner and 75% around the rest of the audience. When you have finished answering the question look at the questioner to ensure he/she is happy with your answer, unless of course you think this is likely to create an opportunity for them to ask another unwanted question. In this case, you should ensure you are not looking at the questioner when you come to the end of your answer, and then just carry on with the presentation.

In general, it is a good idea to think of the three worst questions you could be asked and work out three good answers as part of your presentation development. Doing so will help boost your confidence and with any luck they will never be asked.

For more hints and tips on effective business presentations please visit my presentation training web site.

All the best

Graham Young


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