Don’t Forget the Q&A!
Too many speakers spend all their time preparing for their talk and never give a second thought to the Q&A. They view it as an add-on, something they don’t even need to consider until they conclude their brilliant presentation.
The problem with this approach is that the last words you share with your listeners—the ones they will often remember most clearly—are all based on your skill as an impromptu speaker.
To make sure you end on the same high note as your presentation, you need to prepare for the Q&A.
Before the presentation:
*Anticipate questions: logically, if you anticipate your audience asking a particular question, you would have included that information in your talk. However, time constraints often force hard choices. Look at what you had to cut from your presentation, phrase it as a question, and work out a strong answer.
*Think carefully about who will be attending the presentation and what area they tend to focus on; finance, product development, etc. Consider any questions they may ask that is important to their area of control.
*Rehearse your responses aloud.
During the Q&A:
*Take a breath and pause before you respond. This will allow you to organize your thoughts and ensure you understood the question.
*If you are unsure what you are being asked, put the question in your own words and repeat back to the questioner. “Did I understand that you were asking about …”
*Don’t react emotionally. Put the emotions aside and work out what information the person wants to know. Speak directly to the issue and avoid being dragged into an argument.
*If a question stumps you, be honest, thank the person for asking, and suggest a one-to-one afterward.
Don’t leave your last impression up to chance.