From the comments I receive about these Training Success Tips (TSTs), it seems those that generate most traffic revolve around being a more confident public speaker. I suspect this is because whatever your profession, the one thing the majority of us have in common is that we sometimes need to stand up on our hind legs and orate!

And of course I know most folk are not overly fond of presenting. So I thought over the next few TSTs, I would address the problems that can come when the audience is allowed to join in – i.e. Question Time.

If you have been following my TSTs, you will have already received lots of advice on putting a presentation together professionally. So, having delivered a barnstorming speaking performance – you now have to open the floor to all-comers. Oh dear, how quickly the fizz can fade!

There is nothing worse than the delegate who throws you with a question you either can’t or don’t want to answer. Well firstly, a little reassurance – you never need to answer any question within the presentation itself, you are quite free to defer it to another time (when you have researched the correct answer – or perhaps checked whether it wouldn’t infringe confidentiality). So don’t be bounced into responding, especially if you know you will make a monumental fool of yourself if you attempt to. Never forget that this is your presentation and therefore entirely within your control.

If you do wish to defer an answer then simply say so (although this isn’t an excuse to deflect any and all flak that might come your way, you need to be genuine and sparing about deferment). Thank the delegate for asking the question, explain as honestly as you can why you can’t answer right now and give them a medium and a time frame for when you will be in touch.

E.g. “Thanks for asking your question on budget, we haven’t finalised the figures yet, so I would be guessing if I gave you a price now. My email address/phone number will be… on the final slide/on my handout/on my business card … and I will look forward to hearing from you. It will be Wednesday before we can release the data. I hope that will work for you?”

And do ensure that you keep your promise; you don’t want to become known for ducking dodgy questions on the spot but then never following through.

Action Point: If you would like to cope confidently and comfortably when presenting your case and responding to questions; or you would like your team to be more effective in briefings, contact us for additional information or to arrange a chat with one of the Stratus team.

Training Success Tips

Stratus Associates