Of course, giving a persuasive presentation will cement your credentials with your audience. However, giving an excellent, off the cuff, Q & A — can truly enhance your excellence in the hearts and minds of your listeners for months — even years, to come.
Remember: This is your time to shine as they say. Nothing is scripted –you are in the here and now — and there is no hiding from your audience or fan base.
While it is impossible to prepare for the unknown questions the audience may raise, the public speaker, trainer or consultant, can prepare for the question and answer period by researching the topic thoroughly. (You are an expert in your field, are you not?)
As with the ability to connect with the audience during the presentation, the key to difficult questions is honesty, directness and keeping in touch with the real performance level of the session.
Here are three things to remember:
1) Rephrase the question asked, to be sure that the question has been accurately understood. This can reduce confusing, rambling or imprecise questions and allows the speaker time to regroup and approach the answer.
2) Understand that one of the roles the speaker brings to the presentation is that of a teacher. In the answer, the speaker must think about the learning application of the answer and the question asker’s point of view.
3) Questions, in general are not asked to be difficult or to make a fool of the speaker, but to cement the concepts in the mind of the audience. Keeping this perspective in mind will make the speaker more patient and more thoughtful in their approach to the answer.
Often when a speaker has raised controversial or provocative concepts, cognitive dissonance occurs.
As you can imagine this creates discomfort for some audience members as long held beliefs are questioned. Questions raised in this state of mind may seem “hostile” or “angry” but they’re part of the process of integrating new information into existing thinking rationale.
Often difficult questions arise because the speech did not structure the concepts and topic in such a way that the audience knew what material would be presented, or didn’t have a clear review at the end of each concept.
Reinvention Guy’s Take-Away-Tip: Don’t expect perfection. No one knows all the answers, there is no harm in saying that you are unaware of the answer, that you will research that and provide the answer or offer to return an answer at a future time by email or other method. Don’t be fake. The audience knows when you are bluffing; the connection breaks if they detect deception or puffery. If you don’t know, don’t pretend.
- Remember the power of the pregnant pause
- Regroup, breathe and think carefully before answering difficult questions
Make no mistake: Words have power; the speaker has stepped into the role of the expert. Reply by saying you don’t want to give the wrong answer — so you’ll do some research and get back to the person who asked the question. Then offer to exchange contact information.
This will resonate strongly with your audience and make the speaker responsible for the power of their answers and for the power of their message. Take pride and look forward to giving smart, succinct, and strong answers to questions brought up by your audience and you will reap the benefits big time.
Before Peter J. Fogel reinvented himself from a successful stand-up comic into an in-demand Speaker, Corporate Trainer, Freelance Advertising Copywriter/Problem solver, he worked on many TV shows, including Married With Children, Hope and Faith, and Whoopi to name just a few!
He has appeared on NBC, CBS, FOX, HBO, and PBS. When not corporate training or giving motivational speeches, Peter is the star of Steve Solomon’s hit one-man show, My Mother’s Italian… My Father’s Jewish… and I’m Home for the Holidays (the therapy continues…) Fogel is also the author of the critically acclaimed book Reboot your Career: 27 Ways to Reinvent Yourself in the Workplace (If You Still Have a Job!) For an autographed copy and to receive over $200 worth of FREE Bonuses, please visit www.rebootyourcareernow.com.
Interested in public speaking, then please sign up for Peter’s FREE 7 Days to MORE Effective Public Speaking E-course(a $125 value) and get FREE Mp3 downloads at www.publicspeaklikeapro.com www.peterfogel.com