3 Ways to Answer Questions During a Presentation

You’ve got a major client presentation next week, and you’re nervous. You’re prepared, you’ve got your speech down pat… and you know it could mean a big order for your company’s products if you pull it off. But if you think your presentation will be over as soon as you’ve stopped talking, you’re wrong.

The best way to “seal the deal” with potential clients is to have a question and answer (Q&A) session after your speech. And that’s where you have to be firing on all eight cylinders.

Your prospects will have questions – and you’d better have the answers. Here’s how to prepare for it:

1. Set guidelines before launching into the Q&A. Tell your audience that you have time for few questions – but set a time limit. And keep to it. Make your answers as succinct as possible so you can answer as many of their questions as possible.

2. Learn to paraphrase rather than repeat a question before answering it. Paraphrasing allows you to remove any skepticism or hostility from a question.

Here’s an example. Say an audience member says something like, “I’m in customer service… and I tell you, it’s tough. We already sell a product similar to the one your company has, and we seem to get a lot of irate customers who want to return it and get their money back, even if they bought it more than 10 years ago. How would you handle this?”

In that case, you might paraphrase the question this way: “Okay, a customer bought that widget way back when Clinton was in office and NOW wants a refund. Here’s what you do…”

3. Listen carefully to the entire question. Never interrupt people before they are finished speaking (even if you know where the question is going). Maintain eye contact to show you’re focused on the question. And when the person is done speaking, address your response to the whole room.

With these three techniques, you can make your Q&A sessions more valuable to everyone in your audience.

[Ed. Note: You don’t have to be a professional speaker to benefit from public speaking techniques. They can help you convey your message to colleagues, employers, and clients. Get public speaking expert Peter Fogel’s guide to speaking like a pro right here.]