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Presentation Skills. Unit 8: Dealing with Questions

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Presentation Skills. Unit 8: Dealing with Questions

  1. 1. PRESENTATION SKILLS Unit 8: Dealing with Questions
  2. 2. THE POWER TO QUESTION IS THE BASIS OF ALL HUMAN PROGRESS. — Indira Ghandi
  3. 3. This one is called: Last minutes of a presenter.
  4. 4. VERY often presenters are afraid of their audience to ask questions and, when the presentation comes to that part, fall into a defensive, suspicious position. They forget one simple truth: your audience is not your enemy. Even more, if you want them to follow your objective, you should try to be friends with them and help them. If your objective is for example to convince them to buy your product, after presentation they will consider doing so only if they have all their questions answered.
  5. 5. IN this unit we will talk about how to deal with questions and how to be ready with most of them in advance.
  6. 6. Anticipating questions
  7. 7. Anticipating questions THINK of the questions in advance. If you know your topic and your audience, it’s easy to anticipate what your audience will want to know about what you tell them. Make a list of questions. Answers to the core, most important things about your topic you will include in your talk, more specific and detailed you leave for Q&A part.
  8. 8. Anticipating questions For example, you’ll be telling about a problem. The core and common question that comes to mind is, ‘What has to be done?’ Or you’ll be presenting a new project. Logical questions of your audience will be something like: How much does it cost? Who will be responsible? How long does it take? Is there a deadline? Do we get support? What can go wrong? What are the alternatives? — if your new suggestion is not 100 % perfect, audience will want to consider another option, so you need to think through how to convince them that yours is still better.
  9. 9. Anticipating questions YOU should also anticipate another type of questions. Some listeners may stick to weak points in your talk. Little details, current problems of the company, shortcomings of your project — questions about them are very likely. Don’t panic and don’t try to hide the truth. Being honest is very important, all you can do is try to soften the negative and present it in a more positive way. Be ready to such questions and know how to answer more positively.
  10. 10. FIRST, let’s talk about the questions that happen during your presentation and interrupt you.
  11. 11. Dealing with interruptions
  12. 12. Dealing with interruptions SOMETIMES people ask questions during the presentation, even if you have asked the audience to wait until the Q&A session. Whereas some questions can and should be answered quickly (for example, when a participant hasn’t understood something you’ve said), you might prefer to postpone unwelcome questions or comments. ✣ If you don’t mind, I’ll deal with this question later in my presentation. ✣ Can we get back to that a bit later? ✣ Would you mind waiting with your questions until the question and answer session at the end?
  13. 13. Dealing with interruptions AFTER answering questions, especially those that require a longer answer, it is sometimes necessary to remind the audience what you were talking about before the interruption. ✣ Before we continue, let me briefly summarize the points we were discussing. ✣ So, back to what I was saying about ...
  14. 14. NOW, let’s look closely at your step-by-step of answering questions during Q&A session.
  15. 15. Answering questions
  16. 16. Answering questions 1. Listen the question carefully. Well, it’s obvious.
  17. 17. Answering questions 2. Ask for clarification or repetition. If you didn’t understand the question, if you’re not sure — politely ask the person to repeat or explain it. ✣ Sorry, I’m not sure I’ve understood. Could you repeat? ✣ I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch (the last part of) your question. ✣ I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your question. ✣ If I have understood you correctly, you mean ...? Is that right? ✣ Are you asking if ...? ✣ Do you mean ...?
  18. 18. Answering questions 3. Reformulate the question in your own words. This techniques is often used because it has several advantages: a) you’ll check that you understand it correctly, b) it will give you some time to think about the answer, c) with a large or noisy audience, it allows the other participants to hear the question, d) finally, it gives you the chance to change the tone of the question, e.g. by making it less aggressive. ✣ I see. So, what you’re asking is: ... ✣ If I understand you correctly, you want to know ... ✣ OK, let me just repeat your question so everybody can hear it. ✣ If I could just rephrase your question ...
  19. 19. Answering questions 3. Reformulate the question in your own words. The question is: You reformulate to by: make it: negative positive leaving out negative ✣ Isn’t there a better ✣ What would be words such as no, solution? a better solution? never, none, etc. aggressive neutral avoiding words which ✣ Do you honestly ✣ You’re asking whether sound aggressive believe we can get I think it is possible or have a negative the contract? to get the contract. meaning such as honestly, really, disaster
  20. 20. Answering questions 4. Answer the question. Quite obvious, too. If the question is okay and you know the answer, you don’t need our help. If the question is difficult, you may soften your answer: ✣ That’s a difficult to answer in a few words ... It could be ... In my experience, ... I would say ...
  21. 21. Answering questions 5. Finally, check that the questioner is satisfied with your answer. Eye contact and a pause is often sufficient. You may ask: ✣ Does that answer your question? ✣ Is that okay? ✣ May we go on?
  22. 22. YOU don’t always have to answer the question. Or answer it right there and at that moment.
  23. 23. Avoiding giving an answer: What if...
  24. 24. Avoiding giving an answer: What if... 1) If you don’t know the answer, be honest and say so. Offer to find out, or refer to another person who can answer the question. ✣ Sorry, that’s not my field. But I’m sure Mr ... from Sales could answer your question. ✣ I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to your question, but I’ll try to find out for you. ✣ I’m afraid I’m not in a position to answer that. Perhaps Maria could help. ✣ I’m afraid that’s outside the scope of my talk / this session. If I were you I’d discuss that with ...
  25. 25. Avoiding giving an answer: What if... 2) If the question is irrelevant, you may prefer not to answer it. Say politely about it. If you prefer to answer, answer politely but briefly. ✣ Can we talk about that on another occasion? ✣ That’s interesting, but I’d prefer not to answer that today.
  26. 26. Avoiding giving an answer: What if... 3) If the question is impossible to answer in time available, you may postpone your answer. Suggest to discuss this question after the presentation. ✣ I’ll have to come to that later, perhaps during the break since we’re running out of time. ✣ Perhaps we could deal with that later.
  27. 27. Q&A session: general advice
  28. 28. Q&A session: general advice Keep control. Limit the number of questions if you’re running out of time. The duration of the whole presentation should remain the same, people react badly if the event takes longer than what was announced in the beginning. Tell people who still have questions that you will answer them after the presentation. Also, if a question is long and rather a mini-speech, ask what exactly the question is before answering.
  29. 29. Q&A session: general advice Don’t allow one or two people to dominate. Politely interrupt the person who is about to ask the third question in a row that you can see other people wanting to ask and that ‘let’s also hear other opinions’.
  30. 30. Q&A session: general advice Stay polite. As we said, some questioners attack a weak point and the speaker can become defensive. But: never allow yourself that — the biggest danger is the counter- attack. Never criticize a member of the audience. Instead of this, give a short, polite and concise answer, rather than a self-justifying lecture.
  31. 31. Q&A session: general advice Signal when time is running out. Simply saying, ‘Time for one last question / two more questions’ is enough.
  32. 32. Q&A session: general advice Refer to documentation, handouts or other information. Remind people they have handouts and can visit the company’s site for further information.
  33. 33. Q&A session: general advice Invite further comments or questions via email. This way people who didn’t get a chance to ask their question, or didn’t have any questions at the time of the presentation, may contact you. Make sure you provide everyone with your personal contact information.
  34. 34. Q&A session: general advice Thank the audience for their questions, for visiting the event, and say goodbye.
  35. 35. KEY POINTS Once again — common order of answering questions:
  36. 36. KEY POINTS Once again — common order of answering questions: 1. Listen to questions carefully and ask to repeat or explain if needed. 2. Reformulate the question before answering. 3. Don’t answer the questions you can’t or wouldn’t like to, but explain why. 4. Watch the time.
  37. 37. KEY POINTS ... and above all: Be positive, and polite, and honest.

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