Answer Questions Carefully : Successful Writing

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Answer Questions Carefully :

The question and answer period often turns out to be as important to your audience as the presentation itself. You need to leave plenty of time for that part of the program and to approach it thoughtfully. As you plan your talk, try to anticipate what questions you are likely to be asked and prepare (and rehearse) some good answers.

Here are three pointers to follow during the question and answer session.

  • Listen to each question in its entirety. Avoid the temptation to cut the questioner off midstream and guess the rest of the question. Make eye contact with the person asking the question and keep your own mouth shut. The only exception is for a question that rambles on and on. Such questions you need to cut off with something like, "So as I understand it you're asking ..."

  • Once you've heard the entire question, you can go ahead and answer. But if the question is at all complicated or if you feel it might even be a little bit challenging, it is a good idea to first paraphrase the question: "Let me see if I understand your question: you want to know whether ... " In addition to confirming that you and the questioner are on the same line of thought, this also gives you a little time to think about your answer, keeping you from making the kind of snap answer you may regret later.

  • If someone asks you a question you cannot answer, do not try to fake it. You'll do much better to say something like, "I just am not sure what the answer to that is - if you'll stop by the lectern after this session is finished and give me your name and email address, I'll see if I can find out the answer and then let you know as soon as I do." Sometimes you can also pass that kind of question on to members of the audience: "Maybe someone else in the room today knows ..."

  • To continue the section on
    Giving Oral Presentations,

    Size up the situation.

    Write out a rough draft of your talk.

    Outline your talk from your draft - start planning your visuals.

    Decide on props and visuals.


    Deliver the talk.

    7. Answer Questions Carefully.

    Get feedback.

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