ArticlesPublic Speaking

How To Handle Audience Questions Effectively

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For some reason, the prospect of having to answer audience questions fills many presenters with dread and fear. Looking at it in a positive way however, it's an ideal opportunity for you to satisfy the audience further, and you can continue to drive your main points home adding emphasis to your talk.

As with so many aspects of public speaking and presentations, the key is to be prepared. Make a list of all the logical questions that you are likely to receive, and think carefully about how you would answer each one in a satisfactory way.

When it comes to the moment after the talk where questions are invited, relax and stay in control.

As the question is asked, look the person in the eye and stay focused on them, nodding your head to show that you are listening. Respectfully wait until they have finished speaking, even if you know the answer mid-way through the question.

After each question is asked, thank the person, and if the rest of the audience did not hear the question, it is a kindness to repeat it so that everyone else is on the same page.

Take your time in answering questions. Don't feel rushed into giving an answer. If someone is trying to be awkward, continue to treat them respectfully. Never ridicule or be unkind to someone like that ? let them be the bad guy, not you.

Resist the temptation to give an answer if you are not sure. It's better to admit you don't know and offer to find out the answer and get back to the person, than to guess and possibly get it wrong.

Some people want to hog the question time, and will try to ask you a stream of questions. If the first few are easily answered within a reasonable time, then you might choose to go ahead and answer them, but if the person continues to ask more questions, you should tactfully invite them to speak to you afterwards, in order to give others the opportunity to ask questions.

If you are unsure about a confusing question, or you don't hear the person fully, don't be afraid to ask them to repeat it or clarify what they mean. Never guess! If you are still unsure, you might rephrase what you heard and ask them to confirm if that's what they were asking.

Lastly, learn from the questions you are asked. For example, if you find that you are commonly asked about something you know you covered in your presentation, you probably need to review that section to make it clearer in future presentations. Likewise, if there is a particular area of interest that consistently arises in questions, you may want to devote more time to that area in the future.

Paul Daniels is often described as The Johnny Carson of England. In his home country he is a household name due to his more than 20 years of prime-time TV shows that have been broadcast to 41 countries. Paul's course: The Stress Free Guide To Public Speaking and Presentations is the International best selling speaking course - visit: for more information.

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