What to Do When Someone Ignores the “Hold Questions Until the End” Rule.

From the start of your presentation, set expectations, and let the audience know that you can only take questions at the end. In a virtual setting, encourage listeners to submit questions as they think of them, but reinforce that you will only respond when the presentation is over. 

But what if there is that one person who peppers in questions as you are speaking?

  • As the presenter, you should acknowledge the interruption, not ignore it. “You make a good point, and I will address it at the end.”  “Great to see the high level of interest, but I ask that you keep questions for the Q&A.” Ignoring the person usually increases the number of interruptions.
  • If you do choose to respond (and the type of question should guide your decision), address your reply to all your listeners. This way, you are using the question to add value to your presentation. 
  • Don’t be tempted to enter a back-and-forth with one person. This excludes the other listeners and can lead you down a path to nowhere.
  • Remain calm. It is easy to react negatively to rude behavior, especially if you suspect the questioner is looking to get a reaction. Take a breath and focus on keeping your cool. Do not respond or engage emotionally; simply respond as you choose and get back to your presentation as quickly as possible.