Recently I covered how to handle a Question and Answer session with grace, and highlighted exactly what to do to keep yourself out of hot water and get through the Q&A session intact. In this article I address the Don’ts of Q&A:
1. Don’t say, “Good question.”
Tons of people do this, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Saying “good question” isn’t a good idea for several reasons:
a) It’s a big, fat, umm. It’s used to give the speaker a couple of seconds to think of an answer. Instead, simply pause and answer.
b) Not all questions are good! You’re putting yourself in a position of judging questions, and audience members do pay attention to whether it’s said or not. Avoid a sticky situation by simply pausing before answering.
c) If it’s such a good question, why wasn’t this point covered in the presentation? Enough said.
2. Don’t unnecessarily repeat the question.
Repeating the question is usually another big, fat, umm to give the speaker time to think. Again, pause and then answer.
There are two main situations when repeating the question is appropriate: a) You’re speaking in an enormous room and you’re repeating the question so the entire audience knows what you’re answering. b) You have a questioner who’s going on and on, complicating the question. Politely interrupt them and repeat your interpretation of the question to be able to move on and answer.
3. Don’t argue.
Seems obvious, but if you have a hostile questioner, it can be tempting to try to appease or get that person to see your viewpoint during Q&A. You may find yourself arguing your point before you know it, but in most situations, you’re not going to pacify a hostile questioner in the short course of Q&A.
Save yourself from letting that person commandeer your session by saying something like, “Sounds like we have a difference of perspective. Let’s discuss afterward.”
4. Don’t change from your original presentation style.
You’ve had engaging, energetic behaviors for the whole presentation, and then Q&A comes along, and you’re sitting on the edge of a table, casual, with a piece of straw in your teeth. Don’t let there be a change between your presenting self and your Q&A self!
Q&A is still part of the experience you’re creating for your audience. It’s still part of building your credibility. So maintain your effective behaviors and content through to the end.
About the Author:
Ben Decker is president and CEO of Decker Communications, a firm that consults and trains businesses in communications – both in what they say and how they say it. Decker programs create focus and confidence, helping leaders close the deal, launch an initiative or motivate action. For more information, visit www.decker.com.