The Q&A of a presentation often stokes fear in seasoned public speakers. Of all possible presentation elements—opening, stories, demonstrations, closing—the Q&A has the tendency to make even well-versed speakers lose control and fall flat.
As it’s usually near the end of the presentation, a poorly handled Q&A session leaves the audience with a negative impression of the presenter’s message. Don’t let this happen to you.
One common problem that causes many presenters to dread the Q&A is the fear of unknown questions. This fear, like most, is unfounded: The presenter ultimately controls the situation. The audience can ask any question, but the presenter chooses how to respond.
Your answers should be brief and direct. Your responses should not be mini-presentations. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger would begin his press conferences: “Does anyone have any questions for my answers?” As Dr. Kissinger’s quote suggests, be prepared with your answers in advance of their questions.
Here are five tips that will let you assume—and maintain—control of your next Q&A session.